The HAES Files

The Paradox of Privilege: A Call for Voices

by Dr. Jenny Copeland

(Side note: this piece is not the result of original insight, but rather the result of labor from generous folks of color, as well as queer, transgender, disabled, fat, and other oppressed people who shouldered the task of educating people with privilege, such as myself. I would not have this perspective without their work.)

Silence. They say it’s golden. That it’s deafening. That it speaks volumes.

Silence can be powerful. It can be oppressive. It can build walls to hide behind.

In reality, it is all of these. All of these, and more.

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Eat, Drink, and Be Merry: A Very HAES Holiday

by Lindsey Schuhmacher, MA

When I was a teenager, I lived with my older sister. We had an oversized magnet on the fridge that said “Eat, Drink, and be Fat and Drunk.” We thought it was funny. In some ways, I still do. It sets you up for one thing, but then surprises you with an irreverent version instead. But now I see things other than humor in it. I recognize a deep paranoia that accompanies the idea of letting go and really enjoying something. I sense a fatalism that says that if we eat and drink what we like, it will inevitably lead to outright gluttony.

With the holidays fast approaching, I encounter that paranoia on a daily basis. “Oh no!” I seem to hear everywhere, “There will be loads of yummy food around! This is terrible!” While this may seem like a “good problem” to have, considering the privilege involved in having access to parties and copious amounts of food, if you believe that a morsel of yummy food will start you down a slippery slope towards excesses you dare not imagine, it makes sense to be terrified!

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Fat Studies: May the Next Generation of Fat Kids Be Free of Self-Hatred

by Mikalina Kirkpatrick

I am a Women, Gender, and Sexualities Studies (WGSS) major at Portland State University in Oregon. I concluded my junior year with a 2016 Spring term of Fat Studies immersion. I was the teaching assistant for an online class called Gender and Body Image and I took an online senior capstone class called Embracing Size Diversity. I then decided to round out the term with a last-minute eight hour bus ride to Vancouver, BC to attend the fourth annual International Weight Stigma Conference.

After a lifetime of fat phobic schooling, this was 10 weeks of incredible, unusual, validating, and empowering education. If education has the potential to reshape the world, it’s really exciting to think about the next generation of gym teachers, nurses, teachers and others who work with kids going through this kind of educational experience.

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HAES and Naturopathic Medicine: Using HAES Principles to Facilitate Healing

by Caitlin O’Connor, ND

Practicing medicine, especially naturopathic medicine, in a weight-obsessed culture can be tricky. Food and movement are two of the most powerful tools I have to help my patients feel better, but how do I apply those tools in a culture so obsessed with diet and exercise as a means to an end (get skinnier) rather than a foundation for health? Oftentimes, my patients come to me having been traumatized by not only the weight loss industry, but also by medical professionals who have blown off their medical needs and/or focused solely on weight loss as a singular approach to anything that ails them. Figuring out how to work with women of all sizes – in a society that desperately sells the idea of small and slender as the only markers for health – has been a huge challenge in my practice.

First things first, when I work with patients, I ask them to define their goals. I would guess that at least 50%, if not more, of the women in my practice list weight loss as one of their primary concerns. This opens the door for conversation. Why is weight loss important? What has their relationship with weight been over the life span? Is there any history of disordered eating?

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