By Johanna Brotz, UWO Student and Health Promotion Intern
Health at Every Size (HAES) is a movement that started around the 1960’s and has been adapted throughout the years by society. HAES allows people of all sizes and abilities to feel comfortable in their bodies and focus on being healthy and not just losing weight. The overall goal of this movement is to change the way society today defines “healthy” and to help people adopt healthier behaviors when it comes to eating and physical activity. HAES emphasizes the fact that being thinner doesn’t necessarily make one healthier or happier. People that are also apart of this movement are healthcare individuals that dismiss the use of BMI models to approximate a person’s overall health. It encourages everyone (of all shapes and sizes) to improve their health for the sake of being healthy.
A big part of this movement is to accept diversity throughout the population, HAES recognizes that everyone is different and has varied characteristics and that it’s okay to be unique. HAES encourages people to look at their characteristics as assets to themselves and challenge the societal norms that we live with today. Society’s negative views of obesity has only lead to people being unhappy with their bodies, unfulfillable expectations, discrimination and overall poorer health. HAES wants to take the negative parts of weight loss and turn them into a positive experience for your physical and psychological well-being.
HAES has three foundations in their movement that helps to relate their message to their participants. The first component is ‘respect’, this is to honor body diversity and the differences (size, age, race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, SES, etc.) between people by respecting who they are. This not only allows others to be comfortable with how they are but to embrace these differences as well. There is a social justice side to this movement as well that pushes for laws that respect human diversity. The next foundation is ‘critical awareness’, this promotes challenging assumptions (or prejudices) that society has taught us to believe. It also encourages body knowledge of one’s self and confidence. The last foundation includes ‘compassionate self-care’, this requires changing your old habits to healthy behaviors. This aspect promotes becoming physically active, this doesn’t have to mean intense workouts but just moving your body. This could mean walking, yoga, etc. These healthy habits also include behavior changes in eating habits. This incorporates having a flexible eating pattern as well as learning to distinguish your body’s cues of hunger, recognizing when you’re full, and to be knowledgeable of your all around appetite.
If you are interested in joining a movement like HAES, you can visit their website and join their pledge. People that join the pledge are people that are tired of dieting and feeling like they can never lose weight. You are listed onto a registry that allows you to receive many helpful contacts that can help you to be healthier. The website also offers psychotherapist and dietitian contacts to help explain and enforce healthier behaviors. Other contacts that you can find include videographers that can help you bring awareness to the HAES movement.
You can find their pledge at https://haescommunity.com/pledge/