by Deb Lemire, President of the Association for Size Diversity and Health, adapted from the opening welcome for the ASDAH’s 2011 Conference
Those of you who know me, or have seen my recent talk at the Endangered Species: Women’s Summit, know my daughter is the foundation of my activism, my work and my desire to make change in the world. She hears my conversations on ASDAH Board and committee conference calls, phone interviews, counseling friends on the Health At Every Size® model, she has helped me with workshops; she really knows no other way of feeding herself. Not that she gets it perfectly right all the time, neither do I. Not that she doesn’t struggle at times; but dieting is not something she would ever consider because it doesn’t make sense to her. She claims the Health At Every Size way of life as her own. There has never been any other way for her. It is simply how things are.
Rachel likes to sit on the hill of our front yard and just watch the traffic, think, play her guitar. She is 14 yrs old. A couple of weeks ago, Rach was sitting out front. After she was there for about a half an hour she comes bursting into the house and says to me “Well …I was just sitting there in my own yard, minding my own business, when this jerk drives by and yells out the window to me ‘go on a diet fat ass.’ In MY OWN YARD!“
Now if that were me at 14, I would have been devastated. I would have come in the house, told NO ONE, especially not my mother, and crawled into my closet and ate a bag of Hershey bars.
But because Rach has had the HAES inoculation, she was mad more than anything else. I gave her a hug and said I was sorry someone was such a jerk to her. She said, “yeah, he’s just a dick.” OOOOkay well that was interesting….never really heard her say that before… but I thought given the circumstances, we’re gonna let that go. So in my best cool mom voice I was like, “yeah… he is!” We spent the next hour making dinner and of course going over all the things she could have said in response, you know how that is….but it didn’t last long.
Just to make sure she was going to be okay, I went for a booster shot and we watched the Body Positive’s new dvd for teens. Of course I didn’t want to be too obvious so I told her I needed to see it to give feedback, and it was for teens so I needed her input. She tried to pretend that I wasn’t so obvious and that she wasn’t that interested, I did mention she was 14, right? When it was over I asked what she thought. She said it was good. I asked if she thought this would be a good thing in schools. She thought for a moment and then said “yes, but I think it should be on TV at the same time all around the word and everyone should be made to sit down and watch it.” Immunization secure! While for me the experience would have shredded my sense of self, destroyed my ability to live fully, as many similar experiences had done; the HAES thought process protected Rach’s self esteem , capacity to love herself, literally saving her ability to live fully in her body.
That is the power of owning the Health At Every Size mindset for yourself. That is the power we can imbue on our clients and colleagues. That is the gift we can bring to our communities.
It is time to own it. ASDAH has secured the trademark on behalf of ALL Health At Every Size practitioners and advocates, whether members of ASDAH or not, so it literally belongs to us all. But it will mean nothing unless we fully embrace the knowledge that we are standing on the side of truth, standing on the side of science, standing on the side of health, standing on the side of love.