Thursday, August 11, 2011

Becky's Reply to Jess Weiner's Article In Glamour

August 11, 2011

Hi Jess, I’ve never been known as quick on my feet (well except when I had a toddler running herself towards some danger), I need to think about things a while.  Your article in Glamour gave me a lot to think about.

I am confused.

So, when I am confused I ask questions.  My coach hat has to go on for this because I am seeing what we call in our coaching lingo,  ‘collapsing’ of concepts.  It looks to me like all the confusion of Health At Every Size (HAES) and Body Acceptance has combined with scary messages from your doctor and has you collapsing the accepting of your body (regardless of the size it happens to be on a given day) with taking responsibility for keeping it healthy.

I can see how this happens, the two are very intertwined.  When I have a client who is collapsing concepts into one we ‘peel away’ the layers of the proverbial onion.  This is where the questions come in.  I respect you Jess and want you to know that no matter what size you are I will respect you – that includes if you are bigger or smaller.  The statement you made about wondering if your audience would respect you should your focus on improving your health result in weight loss confuses me.  Why, given that HAES truly focuses on health and not weight, would those of us in that world respect you less if you weighed less?

I really would love to hear your thoughts on that.  From what I understand of HAES, if we love our body where it is at that does not also equal choosing to do nothing about improving our health.  Two different things here.  This is the ‘collapsing’ I hear.

I totally get it about wishing to be a different size, sitting (way too much for my comfort) and writing my book about eating disorders I gained weight.  Fortunately I have never had an eating disorder and I am able to laugh about this – mostly.  Now that I can get out and move my body more often in fun ways and get back to eating things that will nourish my healthy body and give me energy I am doing that, my weight may change, it may not.  Yes, I’d love it if my clothes were not tighter than they used to be and my almost 50-year old body looked like it used to…but my main focus is my health and well being.  I want to be able to ski, swim, kayak, bike ride, hike, be alive and healthy until I don’t wake up one day.  That is why I do what I do to keep my body healthy – that is the focus, not weight loss.  This does not mean I am doing it right.  We each have to find out own way.

Next (since we aren’t in a coaching session and I cannot follow up to your answer to the question about respect) I am curious about what it was you (or your eating disorder – that you have publicly shared is still alive and well) heard from your doctor that pushed you in the direction of having weight loss as a goal rather than improving your health as a goal?

I am sad to hear you say, “Still, personally, I never would have gotten my healthier numbers without confronting my weight.”  I believe you and others can and do improve health indication numbers without confronting the weight. 

So, please help those of us who are confused, some angry about the shift in focus of your advocacy.  Deb Burgard, PhD has some interesting thoughts in her blog that I’ll also be commenting on.   There are a lot of people that your article and actions can influence and I hope that the eating disorder’s voice doesn’t overtake your voice on educating about Health At Every Size.  We need your strong voice in this community Jess.

 Another insightful article on HAES:

Please share your thoughts and responses here. 

1 comment:

familyfeedingdynamics said...

Becky, I share your confusion. It also sounds like Jess is confused, and by her repeated accounts, is just "beginning a conversation." I hope that until she is more comfortable with this process, and figures out more for herself where she is going with this (though she says it's not about weight, her goals of wanting to lose 30 more pounds and being disappointed with great health results and not as much weight as she would like tell conflicting stories. I also worry about a goal of running a marathon, which seems particularly extreme for someone who is talking to the ED community.) So, I wish her luck on her personal journey, but hope that some of the damaging conflation of weight loss=health improvement will go away, and perhaps until she figures this out more for herself we should be cautious about promoting her message. I do wonder how talking to an audience of ED survivors would feel in terms of her goals of weight loss and marathon running (when ED often has an extreme exercise element...) What do you think?