How can doctors and medical professionals be more supportive of fat people?
The can stop making assumptions about fat people. I hear story after story of medical professionals being “surprised” if a fat person has normal blood pressure or doesn’t have diabetes. They can treat fat people like they would a thin person – by focusing on the symptoms they are exhibiting, instead of their size. Too many people have complained about structural issues (like foot or back pain) and told “lose weight”, and the problem continues. Whereas if a thin person shared the same complaints they would be issued tests and treatment. I truly believe that if doctors took weight out of the equation and focused on their health holistically, the overall outcomes would be more positive.
People say that that body positive and fat acceptance is unhealthy and that we are promoting obesity. What is your response to that criticism?
My response is people don’t know – it’s ignorance. When we have a medical community that is invested in size bias it’s really hard for people not to believe that obesity is a problem and it’s unhealthy. A doctor who is a proponent of Health at Every SizeⓇ and Intuitive Eating said she is shocked at how willing her colleagues are to ignore the lack of evidence that weight isn’t what is causes disease. When we have a culture that associates negative characteristics to larger sizes, people are conditioned to believe it’s a problem. It takes an open mind to consider that perhaps the current discourse on size and health isn’t what we are told that it is.
What is Health at Every Size?
Health at Every SizeⓇ is a paradigm to approaching health that is size-inclusive. It doesn’t see size as a problem to be fixed but rather recognizes that people come in all shapes and sizes and that is to be respected and worked with. It recognizes that health is multidimensional and is not just physical but emotional, mental, spiritual, social etc. and that well-being and enjoyment of life is a key part of health and looks different for everyone. For more information, I would recommend the Association for Size and Health Diversity website.
What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive Eating is a set of 10 principles to eating developed by two dietitians (Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch). It’s an approach that rejects the diet mentality and helps to guide us towards an internally-focused and trusting relationship with food and our bodies. Through diet culture, we have lost trust that we can naturally regulate our eating and get a balanced nutritional diet that is also pleasurable. The Intuitive Eating approach helps us reclaim that trust. I recommend reading the book Intuitive Eating to learn more about it in depth.
How can people start accepting their bodies?
I have a free downloadable guide – The Body Acceptance Jump Start Guide – 5 Actions to Feel Better in Your Body Now on my website that is full of resources and is a great place to start.
What is the way for people to be supportive of someone starting this journey?
Realize that depending on how deep someone has been invested in diet culture and trying to change their body, that it can be a hard process at times, and it takes time. There will be emotional ups and downs and this is completely natural. They can be supportive by listening to them and allowing for any emotions that come up. They can also be supportive by not talking about weight or body or diets. They can reinforce the positive changes they see in the person. For me, it was so helpful for my fiancé to remind occasionally of my emotional state while I was still dieting (it was unstable!) and how much happier and even-keeled I am now. When I needed it, it was helpful for him to tell me how beautiful I am and just be generally supportive on those days I was feeling down.
How do you suggest for fat people deal with the constant bombardment of fatphobia?
To eliminate it in as many places as they can from their life! Stop following on social media anyone who is talking all the time about diets and promoting the thin ideal (even friends), and start following body positive accounts and blogs (like Fiercely Fat!). In my Jump Start Guide, I list a bunch of great people to follow. Also – start calling out fat phobia when you see it. It’s not always easy to do, but if friends are fat-shaming someone (even if it’s behind their backs) – say something. The more we bring attention to this not being ok, the more it will change.
This is the end of my interview with Body Postive Coach Kristina Bruce. Please follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube. Do you have any questions for her? Let both of us known down in the comments!