Jess Weiner, body image activist, wrote a recent Glamour Magazine article: Jess Weiner’s Weight Struggle: “Loving My Body Almost Killed Me”. Earthquake-like experiences flow through the eating disorder and Health at Every Size (HAES) communities with this courageous article. I am an active member within both communities and reading this article has been like learning Dr. Dean Ornish is now following the Atkins Diet. A body image warrior is on a diet.
Part of the debate focuses on whether Ms. Weiner is focusing on health or weight loss or both. This matters significantly because mindful eating experts value health and health promotion without calorie restriction. Mindful eating, a core principle within HAES, also focuses on behaviors that help a body feel healthier. Weight loss can be a side effect of this yet weight loss is not a behavior. It can’t be predicted and it’s not as important as the behavior change.
Ms. Weiner is honestly talking about both health and weight loss. And, although her experiences are her own, I respectfully (I do own her books!) disagree with some of her assumptions based on her own body loving experiences.
Ms. Weiner describes her body acceptance leading to unhealthy eating and exercise choices with proud permission to do so. Further, I am led to believe that in her description, loving one’s body is mutually exclusive with not choosing health promoting food and movement.
As a strong proponent of HAES, I’m saddened this article equates self acceptance with promoting unhealthy eating, exercising, and living. That sounds more like a teenager rebelling against an over-controlling parental voice. If you’ve met with me in individually, you may have discussed this exact experience. Many people who’ve experienced disordered eating and/or years of diets will notice this teenage-like rebellion message. It is part of the process of healing. And, when acknowledged and sorted through, it is temporary. It is not HAES or loving one’s body. The rebellious teen voice contributes to another external motivator to eat or exercise. Just like a diet.
Loving one’s body is living in the present with it. Mindfulness allows the body to talk to the mind and vice versa. It is being aware of the conversations between the two and how they influence each other. Loving one’s body using a HAES approach seeks to unite mind and body while calmly, in one’s adult voice, letting the teenager and parent in your brain know they aren’t needed right now.
I hope Ms. Weiner experiences health while she loves her body. At the same time. Listening for her adult voice, she can experience both.