Unfortunately, we live in a world where we are at war. We are at war with food…a love-hate relationship that never seems to end. We are at war with physical activity: a punishment required for already being fat or to ensure we don’t in the future. And we are at war with our bodies, our inadequate, ugly, imperfect bodies that we have to “smash” into perfection even despite our physical, psychological, and social health. And where has this war gotten us? Like in so many wars, hate propagates hate, harmful actions result, and the problems get worse.
But there is hope, all around this town, the county, and the world a peace movement is starting. People of this movement may call themselves “Non-dieters”, “Weight-inclusive”, or “Health At Every Size” advocates, and they believe in peace: A peace where we are free to enjoy food and eat nutritiously at the same time. A peace where we can take pleasure in moving our bodies in balanced and sustainable ways. A peace where we can accept, honour, and even love our bodies, and respect the huge diversity that exists in the shapes, looks, and sizes of our bodies. We hope that this peace movement dissipates hate, and replaces it with love, and helps people develop self-caring ways of eating, moving, and living, beginning the healing process.
Like many wars, however, there are strong social, political, and economic forces that sustain it. Socially, the broader society still believes in worshiping the gods of thinness and muscularity. Politically, the government still sees fat as the enemy. And economically, the paradoxically fat-cat dieting industry is invested in keeping unsuccessful consumers returning to the registers at all costs. So, with this broader context in mind, real change will not happen with individuals…
Change will happen in numbers – BIG numbers. To help us as individuals we all need a sense of community. I once naively thought that most chronic dieters could not free themselves without a great psychologist. Later, I realized I that most people need a whole team of professionals to succeed with this. Now I believe that we need to go even further, and develop a broader supportive community to achieve significant and lasting change. A community that helps buffer the harmful effects of the simultaneously fat-hating and fat-promoting environment. A community that helps build resilience to this unhelpful culture and develop a strong sub-culture of people who love food, movement, and their bodies. A community that, over time, helps educate, inform, and inspire the broader community to change their attitude towards themselves and others. This is a community that we must seek out as individuals and co-create as a group.
Examples of this community are popping up everywhere, my personal favorite is a “fat girls swim club” in California Beach, where once a month bigger ladies who otherwise don’t enjoy the ocean due to weight stigma and body-image go for a swim! At WMP, our contribution to community are our online support group (please join up if you haven’t already, and share with a friend or family member – we all know many people who have weight, eating, and body-image challenges!)…and NEW WMP walking group…and watch this space for more next year…
The answer is not in winning the war, but finding a way to peace. PLEASE – personally and professionals – come and join the movement! And, especially with this post, share the love with friends, colleagues and clients.
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