This May Shock You, But Your Concern Is Killing Us

Written by Rebecca Alexander.

Art by Body Liberation Photos.

I don’t have to tell you that our society equates size with health. And I may not have to tell you that this is a false equivalence. But this is information that bears repeating:

Not all thin people are healthy. And not all fat people are unhealthy. People can be healthy at any size.

I also think it’s worth saying that there are very few occasions when it’s appropriate to concern yourself with another’s health.

Nonetheless, many persist in concerning themselves with the health of others: from family members to strangers they meet in the grocery store.

I have been on the receiving end of advice from people like this. And I believe that for the most part, they mean well. If you are one of these well-meaning people who are generally concerned with the health of your friends, family, or your fellow human in the grocery store, here’s what I’d like you to know:

Your actions have unintended consequences. They cause far more harm than good. If you really want to help people be healthy, please stop. Accept us as we are.

Telling us that we’re unhealthy can make us feel terrible about ourselves. From there, the detrimental mental and physical health effects are endless. Research proves it.

“There is a common misconception that stigma might help motivate individuals with obesity to lose weight and improve their health,” Rebecca Pearl, PhD, an assistant professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at Penn’s Center for Weight and Eating Disorders told Science Daily. “We are finding it has quite the opposite effect. When people feel shamed because of their weight, they are more likely to avoid exercise and consume more calories to cope with this stress. In this study, we identified a significant relationship between the internalization of weight bias and having a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome, which is a marker of poor health.”

The Association for Size Diversity and Health is a network of physicians, counselors, nutritionists and other health professionals who celebrate bodies of all shapes and sizes. Their Health At Every Size® (HAES®) approach prioritizes the holistic health of every person and works to end shame in all its forms.

I am so honored to announce that AllGo will offer a poster presentation to the HAES® Community at their upcoming conference in August 2018. Click here for more information and to buy tickets.

About the Author

Rebecca Alexander is the Founder of AllGo and the author of A Kids Book About Body Image. Rebecca believes that being fat isn’t something she needs to change. She works to help others free themselves from the harmful bias that exists in our society. Her work is equal parts creativity and technology. Rebecca lives in Portland, Oregon with her Lhasa Apso, Lucy.

Follow on IG: @portlandrebecca | Follow on Twitter: @portlandrebecca