“Dietland”: Connection to “Health at Every Size”

I want you to consider something, hon. What if it’s not possible for you to ever become thin? What if there is no one day? What if this is your real life right now? What if you’re already living it? From Dietland by Sarai Walker

One of the multiple aspects of AMC’s new show Dietland, based on Sarai Walker‘s 2015 novel Dietland, is that the late-20’s main character “Alicia ‘Plum’ Kettle (Joy Nash) [is] a woman who — at least when we first meet her — defines herself solely through her self-hatred of her body” (Caroline Siede, Consequence of Sound).

Author Walker, a proud “fat activist,” has Plum go through an eventual attitude transformation—one consistent with the ideas of the Health At Every Size (HAES) movement that Walker supports.

The 2010 Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight was written by Linda Bacon, PhD. Below are some pertinent quotes:

The only way to solve the weight problem is to stop making weight a problem—to stop judging ourselves and others by our size. Weight is not an effective measure of attractiveness, moral character, or health. The real enemy is weight stigma, for it is the stigmatization and fear of fat that causes the damage and deflects attention from true threats to our health and well-being.

We live in a world that’s decided to define food as “good” or “bad,” a world that encourages us to ignore our hunger and fullness signals in favor of continually seeking out that Holy Grail of thinness, or to use food to fill needs that have nothing to do with sustenance.

While it is clear that our food choices are a matter of personal responsibility, it is important to recognize that we do not make our choices in a vacuum. We select our foods in an environment toxic with government policies that encourage cheap prices for foods with low nutrient value, and in which billions of dollars have been spent to convince us to distrust ourselves, to overeat, and to eat foods laced with ingredients that raise our setpoints and damage our health.

Instead of putting our energy into thinking about how we can improve the world, we obsess about how we can change our bodies.

You only have one body and despite how well you live your life, it may never change. Can you afford to hate yourself for the rest of your life?

Along with “radical dietician” Lucy Aphramor, Bacon has also written a follow-up, Body Respect: What Conventional Health Books Get Wrong, Leave Out, and Just Plain Fail to Understand about Weight.

Aphramor expresses views on her website that cover the basics of body positivity—and significantly more:

Imagine a world where no-one is starved of food, company or dignity. Where no-one wakes up ashamed of their body, dreading their next binge or being insulted for what they look like. In this imagined world, it is taken-for-granted that everyone should have access to food as a right and the opportunity to exercise safely. At the same time, we are clear that eating and activity are only one part of the picture of health. We work from the assumption that personal and population wellbeing means we need to teach compassion, address climate change and build a fairer world.

Body respect, thus, is viewed as intimately connected to respect for all.

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