It’s important to find a health care provider who will promote your individual health based on your individual needs, and this includes the needs of your specific body.
Health at Every Size (HAES) seeks to support body positivity and acceptance of all body types, instead of the notion of one body type or size as the universal ideal.
Dieting and body shaming can be extremely harmful to individual health and ignorant of diverse lifestyles and identities, despite mainstream culture’s obsession with weight control and weight loss. HAES seeks to remedy that harm through a new way to look at overall health.
What is the HAES Movement?
Founded by Dr. Lindo Bacon, Health at Every Size, or HAES, is a body acceptance movement and conversation about health from a holistic standpoint, looking at not just a person’s physical health and wellbeing, but also their psychological, spiritual, and relational health and wellbeing.
By engaging in the HAES movement, individuals and healthcare practitioners promote the idea that all bodies are good bodies and reject the notion that one type of body is ideal or healthiest. HAES promotes individual health based on individual body wisdom — the idea that individuals will be healthiest when they listen to their body’s particular needs and adjust health behaviors accordingly.
HAES Movement’s 5 Principles
HAES operates based on five major principles:
This principle is all about accepting and honoring bodies of all diverse shapes and sizes and rejecting the notion that one type of body or weight is ideal. The HAES movement also rejects body shaming of any kind, focusing on all around health rather than surface-level judgments of health based on appearance or weight.
This principle refers to the idea that health care providers should support health policies that offer equality of information and services and provide people with wellness support emotionally, spiritually, physically, socially, and economically. Overall health and wellbeing should be accessible to all people.
Based on this principle, health services and information should be given with respect to the effects different identities and backgrounds have an affect on the way weight is stigmatized in society, acknowledging the harmful effects of weight bias, stigma, and discrimination. Those with a HAES mindset also seek to support environments that help to address inequities based on race, gender, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status.
Eating for Well-Being
This principle focuses on embracing flexible eating habits to help support individual hunger, nutritional needs, satiety, and pleasure. HAES does not promote externally regulated eating regimens based on weight control.
This principle seeks to promote physical activities that allow people of various abilities, sizes, and interests to engage in movement they enjoy, to the degree they choose to participate.
Why is the HAES Movement Important?
The idea of Health at Every Size is crucial for the equitable care of patients who come from all different identity backgrounds, ability levels, shapes, and sizes and thus have bodies with different needs.
HAES is about respecting all individuals and seeking to find health solutions that suit the individual and not the imagined majority.
Promoting Social Justice
Since health care has not historically been equally accessible to all people, HAES seeks to challenge the notion that one body shape, size, color, etc. is ideal for optimal health. Instead, every body has its own needs based on a myriad of factors that health care providers should take into consideration.
Meanwhile, HAES as a movement helps people understand that making individual choices and changes to reach a certain size is often a class privilege. There are certain choices and lifestyle changes not everyone can afford to make.
As a result, HAES seeks to help individuals find their healthy body and mind based on the parameters of their individual circumstances.
Healing Past Harm
Previous ideas about health have suggested that all people should seek to see a certain number on the scale or strive for a specific body type, which leads to body shaming, weight stigma, and weight discrimination.
Weight control as a blanket remedy for health concerns can also lead to self-loathing in patients and harmful effects on individuals and society as a whole.
A person who is a certain size or shape is not necessarily unhealthy, and HAES seeks to educate providers and patients about individual health factors, rather than an idealized version of a healthy body.
Finding a HAES Provider in Atlanta
When providing treatment plans and health care advice for patients, providers with a HAES mindset will take a person’s entire self into consideration, encouraging that person to make decisions based on their individual body’s ability, shape, size, and needs.
Rather than promote one body type or an overall advice plan of weight loss, these types of providers will be better equipped to address previous inequities in health care by looking at a patient’s entire self. These providers will also address an individual’s spiritual, mental, and social health, beyond just their physical health.
Erin Everett, NP-C, AAHIVS has become one of the go-to HAES-based primary care providers in the Atlanta area. She is committed to treating each individual patient with the respect and personalized attention they deserve to find health solutions that work best for their body and lifestyle.
Check out Erin’s Podcast interview with Dr. Lindo Bacon, where the two discuss Lindo’s new book “Radical Belonging: How to Survive and Thrive in an Unjust World (While Transforming it for the Better).