The Real Problem with Body Acceptance

Last week Jess Weiner, a well-known speaker in the arena of body acceptance and self esteem wrote an article and had a Today show appearance to discuss how health and body acceptance collided in her life. Her article has sparked debate in the Health at Every Size® community, and you can read some of the responses here, here, here, and here.

It is easy to assert that body acceptance is essentially health promoting. This wonderful, logical idea is what captivated me 15 years ago and called me to this field. It is known that when we experience love and self-acceptance, we are more equipped to act in our own best interest. This truth is so far-reaching in its effect on our lives that we can find places of calm and peace that transcend the old disordered and deprived thoughts about ourselves; the one’s formerly rooted in worthlessness and isolation.

Loving our bodies does not mean living in opposition to our health. Accepting and loving yourself into better health (or perhaps despite your health) is a simple and beautiful option that has spawned the “new peace movement” and has become a foundational tenet of Health at Every Size®. Every body is a good body.

So, it seems that there is an elephant in the room here. At this time, in this culture, there is a space that exists between loving our body and acting on behalf of our health. For many of my clients, myself, and I guess much of our culture, it can be hard to find the self-love and acceptance we need in that gray space. The space is cob-webby, full of the old rhetoric and words, the language of fear. The space is one where we hand over the expertise of our bodies to others, and we hope that we find a better, more improved version of ourselves on the other side (remember, this has never really worked before).

Feeling ambivalent about Health at Every Size® is part of the process. This ambivalence helps us learn our own truths about our bodies, our minds and our hearts.  HAES™ and body acceptance are truly helpful and life changing and can be ripe with complexities. There are no easy answers here, ask anyone that is putting this to work in their lives. The path to self-acceptance and self-love is a long and winding road, one so worth trekking. One of the biggest challenges is the courage it takes to keep going.