HAES And Its Impact On Body Positivity

There are plenty of posts out there criticizing the Health At Every Size (HAES) movement. My problem with most of them is they miss the point of the idea of HAES.

What is HAES?

You can get the full idea of HAES at https://haescommunity.com, however the basic ideas are

  • The movement celebrates body diversity in an intersectional way by honoring differences in size, age, race, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, class, etc.
  • HAES challenges scientific and cultural assumptions and values body knowledge and people’s experiences.
  • HAES encourages compassionate self-care by finding the joy in moving one’s body and being physically active, and also eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors your body’s signs of hunger and satiety.

Why do I like it?

These basic ideas are what I love about HAES. It has helped many people realize that just because they aren’t losing weight, it doesn’t mean they can’t be healthy. I want to emphasize that, as someone with chronic illness, I understand that “healthy” is not a universal goalpost. Each of us do have our own personal health goals, even if being generally healthy isn’t in the card for all of us. Knowing there is no failure just because an arbitrary number isn’t reached on the scale is a relief to many.

Health At Every Size is not an “excuse to give up” any more than body positivity is one. Do you recall the part where “joy in moving one’s body” and honoring “your body’s signs of hunger and satiety” was mentioned? Yeah, that isn’t giving up; it’s finding what works best for you.

I Stand against the practice of presuming health and fitness based on appearance. HAES

Embracing the HAES basics has helped me to love my body and care for it in the way that is best for me personally. It allowed me to see that while some bodies react to stress and food shortage by losing weight, mine holds on to it. I appreciate that my body is doing its best to care for me, and I love that previously this body would be the preferred type. After all, being able to hold on to weight would help in a famine. It’s isn’t my body’s fault that isn’t the current conditions. Dieting and chronic illness are different stressors with the same results for me as a famine.

So, Health At Every Size has been a wonderful thing for me and many other people. People misunderstanding the movement doesn’t change that fact, or the reality of what its purpose is.

The author's name, Leigh, in red script, to the left with a coffee cup to the right.