Hey there, my marvelous readers! Today, we’re diving into a topic that’s not just about respecting size diversity, but also about challenging the systems that keep anti-fat bias alive and well – it’s Health at Every Size®, or HAES® for short. 

What’s the Buzz About HAES?

First things first, let’s clear the air. HAES® isn’t about promoting unhealthy habits or glorifying an inactive lifestyle. It’s more like a breath of fresh air in a society that’s been breathing in diet culture for way too long. HAES® stands for embracing bodies of all shapes and sizes and advocating for holistic health that excludes the idea that numbers on the scale dictate how healthy we are. 

Picture this: you’re at a carnival, and there’s a variety of delightful snacks and rides. Now, think of HAES® as the ultimate carnival of well-being, where your body isn’t just a roller coaster of weight fluctuations, but a colorful tapestry woven with strands that represent mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical aspects.

The HAES Framework – Three Cheers for Size Diversity!

HAES® isn’t a one-size-fits-all manifesto – it’s more like a buffet of options that cater to your unique needs. And who doesn’t love a good buffet, am I right? Developed by some fantastic minds in the health and wellness field, HAES® flips the script on the traditional ‘lose weight or bust’ approach.

Imagine a party where everyone is welcome, no matter their dance moves or outfit choices. That’s HAES®! It invites people of all sizes to join the celebration of well-being, defined by each individual for themselves. And leading this epic parade are the following principles:

Postpartum Essentials - a line art drawing of a baby being cradled with a parent's hand on their head with a very light pink background with peach water color circles and gold glitter accents

1. Weight Inclusivity: HAES® encourages us to chuck the idea that weight determines our worth.

It’s about focusing on health-enhancing behaviors decided by the individual and respecting the size diversity of bodies.

It rejects the pathologizing of specific weights.

2. Respectful Care: Be aware of the weight discrimination that exists in our world due to weight stigma and anti-fat bias.

Providers should strive to provide information and services taking into account intersecting identities and do what we can to push back against these inequities.

3. Eating for Well-Being: HAES® ditches the diets that have been messing with our heads.

Instead, it’s all about tuning into your body’s hunger and fullness cues and eating for nourishment and joy. Yes, joy! 

4. Life-Enhancing Movement: HAES® encourages joyful movement that allows people of all sizes, abilities, and interests to engage in enjoyable movement when and how they choose.

5.Health Enhancement: HAES® isn’t just a personal journey; it’s a societal shift. It calls for policies that create environments where all bodies can thrive, like making public spaces accessible and promoting diversity in media representation.

It calls for improving and equalizing access to information, services, and personal practice that improve a person’s whole well-being.

A Parade of Influencers in the Health At Every Size World

Now that we’ve dipped our toes into the sparkling waters of HAES®, let’s meet some of the minds behind this movement:

1. Lindo Bacon: Bacon is the author of “Health at Every Size” and a fierce advocate for body positivity and the end of weight stigma. Bacon has recently become a controversial figure due their practices and abuse of marginalized folks. Bacon’s original framework was instrumental and so we advocate for keeping the ideas but moving towards figures that fully support all folks.

2. Virgie Tovar: This fabulous human is all about dismantling diet culture and creating a world where bodies of all sizes are celebrated. She’s a body image expert, author, and speaker who focuses on the exclusion of fat folks in various aspects of society, how to talk to our kids about fatness, and so much more!

3. Ragen Chastain: If you need a dose of empowerment, Ragen’s your gal. A dancer, athlete, author, and speaker, she’s smashing stereotypes left and right by proving that health and athleticism come in every shape and size.

HAES® and Prenatal Care for All Bodies

Now, let’s zoom in on a topic that deserves a spotlight of its own – prenatal care for people living in larger bodies. Pregnancy can be a roller coaster of emotions and changes, and adding societal pressures, bias, and judgment about body size can be harmful.

HAES® steps in like a supportive BFF, reminding everyone that health during pregnancy isn’t about weight or adipose tissue.

It’s about nourishing the body and soul, getting the care and support you need, and cherishing the incredible journey of bringing new life into the world.

1. Compassionate Care: HAES®-inspired prenatal care focuses on providing emotional support and appropriate medical attention, regardless of body size. It acknowledges that pregnancy experiences vary, and a one-size-fits-all approach won’t cut it.

2. Inclusive Resources: From pregnancy books to online forums, HAES®–minded resources make sure that individuals of all sizes have access to information that doesn’t make them feel alienated or shamed and represents the wide variety of belly shapes, delivery experiences, and outcomes.

3. Mental Health Matters: Pregnancy can be tough on mental health, and HAES® recognizes that. It encourages seeking help when needed and promotes self-care practices that cater to emotional well-being.

If this information piques your curiosity on how to find a more size inclusive provider during pregnancy or one that uses the HAES® framework, we suggest checking out our guide on building a fat positive care team and searching the ASDAH Provider Listing website.

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Health at Every Size® is like an open invitation to dance to your own tune and a declaration that your health journey is valid and unique regardless of your size or ability.

As we bid adieu for now, remember that HAES® isn’t about erasing health goals; it’s about redefining them in a way that respects your body, your choices, and your well-being. Here’s to a world where everyone can strut their stuff, embracing their strength and beauty, respect the diversity of all bodies, and celebrate the fantastic journey of life.