the HAES files: notes to myself – finding hope in difficult times

by Health At Every Size® Blog

by Linda Bacon, PhD 

My new year nearly began on a depressing note, because of the way I ended the old one. Right around December 31, I read an article in the Environmental Nutrition newsletter, The Fit vs Fat Debate, written by the dietitian who moderated my September debate with John Foreyt before members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly American Dietetic Association, or ADA).

This article was hardly the first to bring me down with mindless assertions of conventional thinking on fat, disease and dieting. But as a total misrepresentation of my long-sought ADA platform, it cut particularly deep. It also seemed to undermine my confidence and sense of progress after a year that included many Health at Every Size®(HAESsm) highs, like favorable press, a spirited, community-building ASDAH conference, a successful summer workshop, and the emergence of this blog. If this one article could bring me down, I wondered, how could I find the courage to go forward into 2012 and the years beyond, still pushing against all the odds for a paradigm shift on weight and health?

I know I’m not alone in sometimes wondering how to go on advocating fat-acceptance in a fat-phobic world, so I’m using this first blogpost of the year to share with my HAES homies the resources that pulled me out of the rut. Hopefully, they can help all of us reinforce ourselves and one another when we need to. First, though, some background on the article. 

She Just Didn’t Get It 

The ADA, as you may recall, insisted that HAES belonged on the conference dais only in a debate format, faced by a counter-argument. It was the job of this article’s author, Christine Palumbo, to moderate, and she informed me beforehand that she would be writing a journal article based on the panel. At her request, I suggested numerous HAES resources to support her learning, including my book and the article I co-authored in Nutrition Journal (Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift), as well as a partial transcript of the debate.

So why was none of this information in the article that emerged? How could she have heard so little of the HAES case – missed, in fact, the entire debate aspect of the debate? Her article merely recapitulated conventional thought and either ignored or misinterpreted the HAES perspective. “If you’re overweight or obese,” she wrote, ”There’s no argument that your goal should be to get fit through diet, exercise, and slow, steady weight loss,” Really, Christine? What were you moderating, if not an “argument” about that very point?

 Ms. Palumbo takes as gospel the standard statistical fear-mongering that “two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.” (That we even take those numbers seriously astonishes me. Set arbitrary definitions and you can create any fraction you want.) She ignored substantial evidence I presented on the influence of commercial interests that played a role in creating and then benefit from BMI-based definitions. She then parroted unquestioningly the notion that fat leads to death and disease. I mean, even Dr. Foreyt conceded that mortality data show fatter people living at least as long as those in the “normal weight” category. And even he conceded that confounders muddle epidemiologic associations.

 I was even more disturbed– stunned actually – by Ms. Palumbo’s sidebar on HAES, which she labeled an “alternative weight loss approach.” Was she even there at the September debate? How could she have missed the central thesis of every piece of writing I supplied her with? HAES is decidedly not about the pursuit of weight loss. To the contrary, HAES shifts the focus from weight to health. Reducing it to a movement for overweight people was yet another rather egregious missing of the mark.

 To too many in the dietetics community, HAES qua HAES is just too threatening. They want to co-opt it into just another weapon in the anti-obesity arsenal when in reality, HAES exists to disarm their war against obesity.

What We’re Up Against

On reading the article, though, I felt more than ever like a victim of that war. I found myself in a dark place, where I felt disillusioned and hopeless, and my life work suddenly felt meaningless. I had presented Ms. Palumbo with my best stuff. She was, she assured me in an e-mail, “trying her best to capture both points of view.” She seemed, in fact, to be a kind person who wants to do the right thing. Yet, despite all this, all my efforts at education failed even to dent her armor.

For anyone with a HAES perspective and committed to social justice, it’s easy to get discouraged this way because the truth is, this a HAES-hostile world. Our greatest efforts can seem like droplets in an ocean of conventionally accepted thought; especially when our opponents find so much buoyancy in that sea of ideas.

What happened that rendered Ms. Palumbo so unable to consider a new perspective? I don’t know. But I would like to take advantage of this platform to contemplate the challenge we’re up against. Consider a generic woman with her traits: a white, middle-class dietitian in North America, whose BMI places her in the “normal” range.

She lives in a world where her thinness is currency, conferring attention, respect, jobs, and quality health care, among other advantages. She avoids the daily humiliations heaped on fatter people, the looks of disgust, the blame, and the news reports that her shape constitutes a public health crisis. Everything in her training reinforces this posture. It is likely that she was even drawn to her profession because she has absorbed these cultural values more deeply than others and fears becoming fat, herself, and subject to the stigmatization she perpetuates.

She stands to lose a lot by challenging the mainstream paradigm: the self-righteousness and sense of entitlement that many “normal weight” people feel for having “achieved” their weight; the female bonding around food and weight anxieties, the support and respect of the professional community she is invested in, social approval, even her career. Moreover, she would have to reflect on her history and come to terms with the fact that her beliefs and actions, however well-intended, were actually quite hurtful to others.

In light of the tremendous penalty that could come from engaging with the HAES challenge, I expect it isn’t always conscious choice to avoid it. Many of us have strong defense mechanisms that keep us rooted to the safe and familiar and protect us from hearing information that might threaten our identity and worldview.

Letting Go as a Way to Hang On

Putting all this in context made it easier for me to understand why change is coming so slowly despite all my efforts. My next step was to reach out for support from other HAES advocates who I respect tremendously. That they experience similar resistance reminded me that the outcome may have little to do with me and also lifted some of the pressure I was feeling to break through. Given what we’re up against, I need to just do the best I can, I realized, learn from it, and then let go.

My best defense, I remind myself, is to take good care of myself and stay happy, despite the pain and injustice that surround me, and to maintain my strength to carry on. Only by cutting myself a little slack on the results, can I keep up the strength to keep trying. And I have to try because it is only if I stop trying that I give up any chance of winning.

I have never forgotten a conversation with my father in the last months of his life. He reflected on how he had done everything right, obeyed the rules, gone from “rags to riches” and created a lucrative business, created a good marriage, and fathered children who made him proud. His life was “a success” by any conventional measure. Yet why, he wondered, did he feel like a failure?  

It’s a shame that he waited until so late in life to recognize that what matters is feeling pride in who we are, as opposed to placing value solely on our accomplishments. I inherited this to some extent – the constant drive for achievement, never feeling like what I do achieve is enough. (Did I really need three graduate degrees!?!) But that late in life conversation reminded me to think hard about what I need to achieve success. I have achieved the conventional kind of success, involving wealth and standing and prestige (and thinness). But by itself, it leaves me feeling the same emptiness my dad did. 

No. My efforts to make a good life for myself heed my father’s lesson rather than his example. I do what I do – making the case for HAES in the face of almost overwhelming opposition – because it’s the right thing to do, regardless of outcome.

And, finally, I can console myself with the hope that change does happen. Many dietitians are already championing a HAES perspective. HAES did make it to the agenda of the ADA conference. Some dietitians were able to hear the message and are converts or at least opening to a HAES perspective. Mainstream news outlets have been asking if all anti-obesity efforts are such a good thing.

It helps to remember how often we have been astonished by the sudden crumbling of institutions and extraordinary paradigm changes: the American Revolution, the March on Birmingham, the Stonewall riots, Tahrir Square…  And let’s not forget that it is now scientific consensus that the earth is round.

Change happens because ordinary people organize, insist on challenging the system and speaking their truths, and do not give up. So, as hard as it can be to feel I’ve tried and failed, I take comfort knowing at least I’m still trying.

33 Comments to “the HAES files: notes to myself – finding hope in difficult times”

  1. Dear courageous, brilliant, and talented Linda,

    That woman may not get it but so many more do because of you

    You are saving lives with your work. Those who are ready will be so grateful to read your research.

    We are still in the beginning stages of size acceptance. Look at how long it took to get over our racism. We are still struggling with that to some degree.

    Take a break, nurture yourself and please know your work is changing this world for the better.

  2. I agree with everything Paula said above. Thank you for helping change the way the world thinks-it may take some time but there are cracks in the foundation of the diet culture, and you’ve created many of them. And on a personal level, thank you for being a strong advocate for health. You’ve helped me immesurably.

  3. Palumbo’s article was unusual in that had really no redeeming features whatsoever. She is more extreme in the defense of the old paradigm than many dedicated obesity warriors –including, ironically, Foreyt himself. Foreyt at least gives lip service to some HAES principles, even when turning around and ignoring them. Apparently your moderator in the debate was far more extreme than your opponent!
    I had a sympathetic moderator when I debated Foreyt years ago. But the audience consisted for dieticians with practices dedicated to weight loss. These dieticians depend on people desperate to lose weight who are willing to throw lots of money at the problem. HAES is a big threat to them because they see it as ending their main income stream.

  4. The press may not be listening; private and public organisations may not be listening; a lot of people in health care may not be listening.

    But people are listening, reading and taking action. Personal action if not campaigning publicly.

    If you need hope read all those emails you must get in support; read the blogs of people who have integrated the HAES approach into their life or those who are struggling with.

    Read the thoughts of the dieticians who are listening, taking on board what you’re saying and applying it.

    I’m not there yet but at least I have a focus that makes sense to me and encourages my success rather than blaming my failure.

  5. Hi Linda,

    The timing of this post was really perfect. I was feeling exactly the way you describe. Apparently, despite all the work and effort, some people still fail to get anything one might say or do. Sometimes, the world is a difficult and dark place and we face what appear insurmountable problems.
    You have already changed many lives. I hope that mine is one of them (although there are days that I still think like the person I used to be). When people worry about my weight, I rejoice in the fact that I can run with my (almost) four-year-old daughter. I’m fit, even if I am not what society would like me to be. One day, I will not care at all about society’s size standards (I’m still working on this). In the meantime, I want to focus on the present, on the things I can enjoy and on the pleasure I get from knowing that I’m constantly trying to do my best.
    And thank you for that wonderful phrase “what matters is feeling pride in who we are, as opposed to placing value solely on our accomplishments.” I shall remember it whenever things don’t work according to plan.
    Remember that there are people that are listening and keep strong.

  6. Hi Linda! What a beautifully written piece. I thank you so much for all you do to give HAES (R) a strong, data-driven foundation. And it must be incredibly frustrating to have someone ignore all the facts, figures and data they literally asked you for – I really don’t know how you do it sometimes!

    I think it takes an extraordinary person to let go of years of professional work and be open to HAES. Because for many many clinicians, accepting HAES means also accepting that they may have been harming people rather than helping them. For some it means accepting that decades of their work caused people problems, or at a minimum just didn’t help. Imagine the pain of feeling like your life’s work has been a waste! Imagine wondering if you may need to quit your job or give up funding resources if you embrace the HAES approach to care – that’s got to be somewhere in peoples’ heads when they think about shifting to a HAES.

    I think that there will long be an entrenched “old guard” too far along in their professional lives to risk accepting HAES. Younger clinicians and researchers and therapists will be more open, along with older clinicians who have ‘less to lose’ and/or have the emotional and psychological resources to manage the paradigm shift.

  7. I don’t know you IRL and am not usually a huggy person, but this post made me want to give you a hug. Thanks for all you do and yes, it’s difficult and sometimes thankless, but it needs to be done. I am so glad that you’re out there spreading the message from a position of authority.

  8. And these “sudden” changes were not all that sudden, really. Most of them had been coming for some time. The “sudden” part is when they reach critical mass. Every one of them had to be started by somebody, some lone person calling out in the wilderness. (That would be you.)

    Hang in there. I heard you in 2011. I told a bunch of people, and one of them got it. HAES is spreading and will continue to spread.

    So don’t let the occasional turkey with a bully pulpit get you down.

  9. Dr. Bacon! Thank you for all you do! I know it’s tough to be strong in the face of fat hate but your writing has changed my life. Thank you thank you thank you.

  10. Linda, I am so glad you are sharing the sometimes wounding side of doing this work. It gives us all the opportunity to thank you for what you have contributed over the years – THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! – and to bear witness to the mixture of thrill and defeat, triumph and frustration, that is going to be an ongoing fact.

    At the ASDAH conference there is a tradition of sharing our “HAES Triumphs” and I think we should add a tradition of sharing our disappointments as well, because it’s all part of the process. It is an ambitious thing to try to change people’s minds and to try to change the culture, and we need to budget in the enormous and well-funded pushback. I find it really helpful to know that my individual battles may go either way, no matter how skillful and persuasive and – damn it, RIGHT : ) – I am, and that this is the path forward anyway.

    Weirdly, it seems parallel to the focus on practices and not weight that is HAES itself. You do what is important and right to do, and the world will sort itself out. You hope that the world will look a certain way, but it is going to be stubbornly, itself. And you try to love it and do right by it anyway. Thank you for being you, my dear friend.

  11. To Linda and all those who similarily are sharing in this journey towards a health focused world minus the weight shame, it is hard as we know. Reading this was so helpful though and helped me to recognise we are facing a very hostile and resistant world. I often face this prejudice and ignorance from my family and friends, from other experts and it’s tough, frustrating and hurtful at times. People just don’t seem to want to even consider the idea that we don’t need to worry about weight and quickly throwing back the rhetoric in loud, bossy and angry voices. Those I do see nod or mouth agreement, will then just as quickly in the next breathe talk about dieting or weightloss and sharing with all and sundry. I ask myself why do I care, should I care, wouldn’t it be easier to just you know, go with the flow? Oh I also get told to do that in my HAES coaching businesss as well just go with the flow and talk weightloss because people aren’t going to get HAES!!! I have chosen to study dietetics and face this brainwashing mantra daily, so I again question why? The answer is because it’s true, it’s real and it’s the right thing to do. It’s not about making the world better for me, it’s about making the world better! I may never achieve that myself but perhaps I might just inspire someone else who does. Linda you are most definately a person who inspires me and I think by all of us connecting, and sharing and living our passion WE ARE making a difference.

  12. Christine Palumbo’s article is a prefect example of “None are so blind as those who will not see the truth”. The 1,000 plus people who attended the debate know what you really said. I think it is reasonable to assume, based on the rate at which the HAES stickers were “snapped up” and worn on lapels, that many in the profession are listening.

    Although, I have never had to deal personally with size discrimination in the way the overweight are forced to on a daily basis, I frequently have to deal with assumptions about my health based on my appearance. Over the last decade, I have become a reservoir of autoimmune diseases. The combination of which, at times, is debilitating. Despite fluctuations in weight, as a side-effect of the various medications I tried over the years, I have never appeared any heavier than mildly overweight. As with any invisible disease, I rarely “look” sick. In fact, over the last couple of months I have lost over 10 kg (22 lb +) due to an, as yet, undiagnosed stomach problem. The changes to my body from having lost so much weight is very noticeable. So much so that people who don’t know my recent history, and even some who do and should know better, tell me I “must be getting better” as I am looking “healthier”. Even more frustrating, is when I have to explain, to someone who doesn’t know my history, that I am too unwell to do whatever they are asking of me and they respond “But you don’t look sick” as though I’m lying. I’ve had an Endochrinologist, despite having 18 months of blood tests records in front of him, tell me I have been misdiagnosed as a Type 2 Diabeticsimply because I “look too healthy” and my most recent blood test indicated I had maintained good control of my blood sugars for the previous 3 months. Like the voluptuous, I am fed-up with family, friends, medical “experts” and society at large make assumptions about my health based simply on my appearance. I am tired of being treated as though I am lying about the state of my health.

    While I know the HAES campaign is not directly targeted at supporting people like me, we benefit anyway. What you are doing needs to be done. I, for one, sincerely appreciate your efforts. After having read your book I purchased several more to give as gifts for family and friends at Christmas. The knowledge required to overthrow the current weight-focused paradigm is being spread, possibly further than you are aware. As a general rule, “experts” have too much invested in the prevailing paradigms to risk the potential loss of face and guilt over the harm they have unwittingly perpetrated to give up their long held beliefs without a fight. Like all revolutions, this will come from the bottom up. As body of research increases, which either directly supports HAES principals or refutes the effectiveness of weight as an indicator of health, the ground swell of opinion will force those who are resistant to change to reconsider their position on this issue.

    It takes time. We have 50 years of ingrained belief to overcome. As Gandhi said “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” By my count we’ve reached Stage 3. Your message is no longer ignored and very few are laughing. The “establishment” is fighting the change which is, I believe, inevitable. The prevailing paradigm is not built on a foundation of solid research so it cannot survive.

    I’m pleased you managed to overcome your impulse to give up. We need credentialed people like you to stand up for what is right. It opens the door for the rest of us to help force the change. Thank you for all you have done and will do.

  13. HAES was first conceived in the mid-1990’s which means that many of us have been fighting this battle for over 20 years! There are days when I feel just like you do, Linda. I want to crawl in a corner and lick my wounds. But, like you, I can’t give up either, and for the same reasons – it’s the right thing to do. We have to say that stigmatization and discrimination based on body size are wrong. And we have to promote an alternative based on research. Look at every research article done on obesity. Did they divide the population into two groups: those that are metabolically healthy and those who are not. Well, it they had, their statistics would be very different. Shame on them for not acknowledging what NHANES showed us (Wildman, ARCH INTERN MED/VOL 168 (NO. 15), AUG 11/25, 2008) – that half of overweight people and one-third of obese people are healthy!!!!

  14. Dear Linda,
    Please don’t stop trying. If you stop trying and give up, then those of us who look to you for strength and encouragement will truly be alone.

    Thank you for all you do.

  15. Linda,
    Thanks so much for all you have done. It has been immensely helpful to use your written work for support!! It is also very helpful to me to know that even you at your level struggle with being beaten down. I spend most of my time in a very frustrated beaten down state. I really struggled with why there is so much resistance to the facts until reading your book which showed me what we are up against. I also greatly appreciate the whole list serve and all the creators of it. United we stand, divided we fall.

    I just keep thinking about the story of the little boy who was walking along the beach picking up star fish that had washed ashore and throwing them back into the ocean. A man came up and said, why are you doing that, you can’t possibly make a difference there are a million of them. The boy picked up one more, threw it into the ocean and said “It made a difference for that one.”

    Laurie Klipfel

  16. Dear Linda,
    I’ll never forget the day that I read a news article that was based on your study that was published in JADA in 2005. I had been working as an outpatient clinical dietitian, and was so disheartened by my “traditional” dietetics work. Sitting on the floor of my office, reading that article, and then the journal article, was like flipping a switch for me. I found my passion for dietetics again, in the form of HAES(sm). So, count me as one of the many RDs you have profoundly impacted in the most fulfilling way. Thank you!!

  17. Beautiful article, Linda. Anyone involved in any kind of social change effort can relate. I can’t give you an inspiring answer like other posters have. To me, it’s a simple case of “Don’t let the bozos get you down!” It is very, very hard to get ANYONE to change their mind, especially when their life path is bound up with their old ideas. It’s like trying to get a big shareholder and director of Halliburton or Lockheed to embrace peace. We can’t worry about people like that.

  18. Linda, your book and your work have had a tremendous impact on me. It has been a key piece in me actually dropping the dieting and focussing on my health.

    When I was dieting, I smoked. I found quitting hard because I used cigarettes to keep hunger away. I quit in June 2009 (the same month I completed a 54 mile charity bike ride) and your work helped me do that. You may just have saved me from lung cancer, heart disease and emphysema.

    Since I quit the diets, I’ve also left a career which was dragging me down. I hated it, I would suffer awful insomnia and I would binge drink at weekends in order to try to “escape” from how bad I felt. I don’t do that now. Yes I still drink alcohol, but I know when I’ve had enough to drink and I stop. I don’t get the blackouts, which were common when I dieted. Being drunk was also a handy way to escape from being me, from the awful insults I used to throw at myself and from the deep shame I felt because my body would not conform to what I felt it should.

    I also suffer far less anxiety. I’ve suffered panic attacks at times (usually 2-3 times a year) now these are gone. My marriage has improved, I feel more happy and generally more at peace.

    Am I in “perfect” health? No, I don’t claim to be. I don’t really think there are many of us who can claim that, whatever size or shape we are. Am I going to die younger than I should, as in before the average expectancy? Maybe, but I’ll take a life lived in peace and happiness than the walking death I used to have, where shame, anxiety, smoking and alcohol used to dominate my life.

    So thank you, thank you, thank you. Keep it up – I know I will too, I’m spreading the word – this message must go on to the coming generations.

    Much love

    Jenny xx

  19. Thank you, Linda, for continuing to fight the good fight. HAES has made such headway because of you.

  20. Dear Dr. B.,

    Your feelings are totally understandable. In my own little corner of the world, I try to practice HAES and talk about it to others. Usually, if I am not met with a blank stare, the best I get is something like: “Great idea, but it won’t work for me. When I listen to my body, I end up eating like a pig.” Of course, I suspect a number of my readers on my blog just shrug and say to themselves that I’m just trying to justify why I haven’t lost scads of weight.

    It’s a long, lonely struggle or at least it often seems that way. There is a small group of us, though, and perhaps, with time this group will grow. We cannot give up and give in to the insanity of the diet cartel.

    Thank you for all the important work you do! You are an inspiration to many more people than you could possibly imagine.

  21. Linda,

    I can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate all your work. Everything you write speaks to me personally, as both a dietitian and someone who has struggled with weight. Don’t ever stop. Don’t ever give up. You are one of the reasons why I do what I do. I keep your book on my desk with hundreds of little sticky notes adorning it. You can do this.

    Even though it pertains specifically to diabetes, I encourage you to visit the You Can Do This Project. If you need encouragement, you will find it here.

  22. I would merely say that one cannot have a battle of wits or even a debate with someone who is compltely unarmed. 🙂 I’m not sure I completely agree with or understand your entire position… (but that’s ok–cuz I’m new, and I’m learning!) 🙂 What I do know is that you ARE very clear about what you do say… and Palumbo did not engage the information at a remotely ethical level–even if one would totally disagree with you–they owe an ethical obligation to state your argument and to state it as clearly and correctly as possible. This wasn’t even ATTEMPTED! That IS grossly unfair… Hang in!!!

  23. Time after time we hear stories like this : — An athletic hobbyist who loves, let’s insert snowboarding as the example, and injures themselves and nearly dies. Afterwards, they are often quick to return to the activity that could’ve killed them. Sometimes, multiple times. How is their lifestyle  less of an insurance burden or health risk than obesity? Why are they praised for their devotion to their activity, while overweight people are demonized for their burden on society? Fat stigma is real, hateful, superficially motivated, and an issue that needs the support of rational champions like you.

  24. The greatest gifts often come out of hardship. Thank you so much for your uplifting and inspiring post. It’s something I’ll refer to in my own times of discouragement and despair at the snail’s pace HAES and body acceptance is taking despite brilliant work such as yours being done.

    I keep a quote from Thomas Merton taped to my desk and turn to it often:
    “Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.”

    What you wrote about hanging on by letting go perfectly embodies this–to me this idea continues to be a breakthrough discovery. Your words have made the Merton quote that much more meaningful to me.

    Something I’d like you to know is that I gave your book to my (already somewhat fat-friendly) MD, who thanked me profusely after reading it. He said it has given him another perspective on achieving and maintaining health. So you have given him a great tool that I hope will continue to work its way into his consciousness and practice.

    I’ve also given your book to a woman with diabetes 2 who had been laboring for years to lose weight and was blaming herself for her condition. Your book and the HAES approach made a huge difference in her life, her well-being, her health and possibly most important, in her love for herself.

    It makes me wonder how many similar yet unknown-to-you successes such as these your book, your lectures, your writings have wrought. “The reality of personal relationship that saves everything.” I say, amen to that!

  25. Thank you for writing this. It was perfect timming for myself, professionally and personally.. I have been feeling very discouraged and beat now about moving the message of HAES. I’m a RD and over the years have battled providers refusing to refer patients to me because if my size, but just last month I had a co worker who I believed was on her own journey/acceptance of HAES say to me after a Zumba break at a conference ” wow I was surprised how well you moved and you’re not out if breathe.. You know for your size…well
    You know as compared to XXXX (the other RD at conf).”
    My wind was knocked completely out on me. Yes, I was emotional a mess. I had to take some time as you shared to find my feet again.
    So Thank you! Thank you! It will always be a battle. I realize that clearly now and again I ready to do what right.

  26. My grandma had a name for the situation you describe here: “crazymaking”. It goes beyond discounting and discouraging. It is yet another form of symbolic violence. In this case, the care, clarity, and integrity with which you presented your argument (and your evidence), was, nevertheless, seemingly interpreted by another as the equivalent to SILENCE. You may then feel as if you don’t exist–at least in any form that’s meaningful. It happens frequently, I’ve found, in pseudo-interpersonal exchanges which model a veneer of cordiality, equality, and genuine caring–and are accompanied by reassurances of gratitude for your “insight” or “input.” I hypothesize that it hinges on differences in socially constructed status or authority. When used purposefully, the aim is to silence. When unintentional, symbolic violence represents an all too common identification with (and reproduction of) dominant ideology. I’m glad you were not silenced.

  27. Thank you so much for not giving up. Your book and your study are what I can use to argue my point if anyone asks me why I’m no longer dieting, ever. If a physician or nurse ever tells me I need to lose weight, because of information I’ve learned from you, Paul Campos, and Glenn Gaesser, I can tell that person that I know the reason weight loss is being recommended, which means dieting, since most people who diet just end up gaining back the weight they’ve lost as I have over and over again.
    Since those of us who believe in Health at Every Size are up against a thin worshipping culture and billions of dollars per year are made because of it we’re probably always going to be going against what most people choose to believe.
    I choose to think that if I can convince one person that their body does not need to shrink in order to be acceptable progress will be made.

    The name of my blog is “No Strings Style” for anyone who is interested in accepting everyone and anyone at every and any size.

  28. Dear Linda,

    When times get difficult, I want you to remember that not only are you completely shaking up an entire industry, well, several industries in fact, but you personally are changing lives. You’re changing the lives of people like me, a fat woman with diabetes who was shamed for 35 years until she could take no more and decided that either something had to change, or she could no longer live. Thankfully, something changed, and that something was because of you. Or I wouldn’t be here writing this today.

    Thank you for changing the world. Thank you for changing MY world.


  29. Greetings!
    I can appreciate what you are going through, thank you for writing about it. I just want to say (like many before me it seems) that you had a direct impact on my life. Your book and your ongoing advocacy opened my eyes. You helped me to reconnect with my body and take much better care of myself. You were a bridge to a marvellous community of body-positive people. You have inspired me to pursue a graduate degree with HAES at the centre of my research. More of us keep springing up…they won’t be able to ignore us forever!

    In solidarity,
    Sydney Bell

  30. Linda,

    You guys should have a standing ovation. Seriously. I’m recovering from an eating disorder — 4+ years into recovery and I *never* thought I would get to the point where i would even consider the HAES approach. Now, I believe it, practice it (sometimes — it’s hard to live out after a lifetime of being shamed because of my body) and teach it.

    We really are up against the world and there will be times when we feel like they don’t get us and they’re not listening and it’ll be so frustrating and discouraging. It’s a movement. And just like individuals in recovery don’t see the daily milestones until they’re years down the road, so it is with changing the way people respond to HAES.

    If I can get there, I think everyone can get there. We just have to be patient.


  31. Linda, thank you for writing this. I’ve only recently discovered HAES after a lifetime of dieting.

    Word is getting around, person to person. I learned about your work and your book through a chance encounter, and instantly I knew I had stumbled on something that would change my life for the better.

    A lot of folks are making a lot of money and acquiring a lot of power by selling the notion that fat is bad and fixable. It’s an uphill battle to contradict that, despite the science, despite the evidence, despite the misery. But every day that another man or woman learns about HAES is a triumph for the truth, and a step toward the light.

    I have never met you, but you have already been a blessing in my life. I wish you courage and encouragement as you walk this path.

  32. Great article and your book is wonderful. I recommend it often and have already given it away after I’d loaned it out several times. Don’t ever give up, your research is invaluable and I am very thankful for all the work you do. This world and especially this country really needs to hear your perspective, because all we hear is the fight fat perspective and because of that, I, like so many others, grew up hating my body. I’m learning to love it slowly. Your book helped so much. I can’t wait to read your next one! Thank you, thank you!!!!!!!!!!

  33. Do metabolic ward studies demonstrate that obesity is all about claories? Anthony Coplpo claims this. H says everbody can defeat their obesity and that it is a choice. Is Colpo a reputable source of infromatio about obesity or an Internet crackpot?

    What does Dr. Bacon say about Colpo?

Leave a Reply to Deb Burgard, PhD Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: