24 February 2014

Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size

Over the weekend, I went to a GSA Summit at Dickinson College, and I finally got to meet Ragen Chastain, author of one of my favorite blogs, Dances with Fat. Ragen spoke about body acceptance and the media, and she taught a dance class after lunch, which was actually really fun (I've never danced before, so I was waaaay out of my comfort zone).

Ragen Chastain presenting at Dickinson College
Ragen is a really inspiring person and speaker, so now of course I'm stoked to talk about Size Acceptance and the Health at Every Size philosophy.

The thing is: I'm fat. I'm 5'2'' and around 175 pounds, which the doctor's office loves to tell me is obese. I used to be a "normal" weight in high school (still felt fat though, that's another story), and I gained a lot of weight in college. So now I'm fat. There are a lot of fat people in my family, so I'm sure some of it is genetic.

I'm also moderately active: I do yoga, walk my dog multiple times per day, walk 5k's a few times per year, and do other activities such as swimming when the weather permits. My numbers (aside from weight--like blood pressure etc.) are in the healthy range. I happen to have asthma, but who knows if the weight caused the asthma or if the asthma caused the weight or if it was caused by something else entirely (possibly genetics, since my mother also has asthma).

The point is: yes, I'm fat. I'm also working out, trying to stay healthy, and working on loving myself and my body the way it looks now. Yes, I am tired of hating my body, which is why I was so happy to discover the Size Acceptance (SA) and Health at Every Size (HAES) movements.

Size Acceptance is essentially a movement for civil rights for fat people--you know, basic human dignity and respect for everyone regardless of their weight. Chairs and airplane seats and hospital beds to accommodate everyone. Radical, isn't it?

And Health at Every Size is a health practice based on the belief that people can be healthy no matter their weight (thus "at Every Size"). HAES practitioners work on intuitive eating and doing exercises that they enjoy with a focus on being more healthy, not losing weight.

I've been working on accepting myself and other fat people for the past couple months, and (SHOCKER) it's a lot harder to accept myself than it is to accept other people. Thankfully, there are people like Ragen who tell me every day that being fat does not mean that I'm a horrible person and that foods are not morally good or bad. It was wonderful meeting such an inspiring person! Check out her blog if you're interested in learning more: Dances with Fat.

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