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Why Do We Need to Address Body Shaming and Embrace Health at Every Size?

Have you ever felt like your body just isn't good enough? Maybe someone made a mean comment about how you look, or you've been bombarded with images of "perfect" bodies that don't look anything like yours. Body shaming takes many forms, but it ultimately tells us that who we are is “wrong” or “not enough”. These beliefs can become so internalized that we sometimes forget that they aren’t true and live our life as though our body is bad. 

There are many different ways that people are impacted by body shaming, but some of the main ones we see in our counselling offices are: 

1. Emotional Wounds: Body shaming can leave you feeling really low, like you're not good enough. It can make you doubt yourself and see yourself in a really negative way.

2. Altered Relationship with Food: Body shaming can change your relationship with food, leading to feeling unworthy of eating, not eating certain foods that society has deemed “bad” or not recognizing your body’s cues of hunger or satiety. For some, eating disorders arise, though some folks don’t resonate with this language.

3. Feeling Alone: It's hard to feel good about yourself when you're worried about what other people think. Body shaming can make you want to hide away and avoid being around others.

4. Hurting Inside: Body shaming can take a toll on your mental health, making you feel stressed, anxious, and just plain bad about yourself.

Three people on the beach in bathing suits; one has vitiligo, one is in a bigger body and the third is blocked by the first two

Getting to Know "Health at Every Size" (HAES)

Oftentimes, people claim that the reason they are body shaming people is because, as they state, being in a larger body is inherently unhealthy. And this just isn’t true. Many people are combating this nonsense with a movement called Health at Every Size (HAES).

Here's what HAES is all about:

1. Your Weight Doesn't Define You: A HAES approach understands that health isn't connected to the number on the scale. Health is about having a relationship with your body and food that allows you to enjoy life and feel good.

2. Connection Your Body: What type of relationship do you want to have with your body? One that is filled with love? Or maybe one that is neutral, where you can see how your body helps you do what you want to in a day? From a HAES approach, we recognize that each person desires a different relationship with their body, and the relationship you want is the one we will help you work towards. 

3. Eating For YOU: HAES is about eating in a way that makes you feel good, without punishing yourself or feeling guilty about what you eat. And good doesn’t mean in a way that makes you change the way your body looks. Good means that you enjoy eating, whether it’s because of the taste, the memories the food brings up, the connections it brings or the comfort. Food can play many wonderful roles in our life and HAES can help you see that all of these roles are important and can be welcomed.

4. Moving Your Body: How can you move in a way that brings joy and happiness, rather than a sense of dread or punishment? While many people are taught to move in an effort to change their body, movement can be about so much more than that; whether joy, play, feeling strong, feeling sexy or for energy, exploring if and why you want to move can be a liberating experience.

5. Taking Care of Your Feelings: HAES says that emotional health is just as important as physical health. We don’t believe that you need more discipline or to “try harder”. Rather, let’s learn to listen to all parts of you, to determine what really would be most right for you. 

Two black women in larger bodies dance on the beach

Living from HAES

Embracing Health at Every Size can be a game-changer when it comes to healing from body shaming. By embracing HAES, you can:

1. Feel Good About Yourself: HAES helps you focus on the things that really matter, like your inner qualities and accomplishments, instead of how you look.

2. Eat in a  Joyful Way: It's all about finding balance and enjoying food without guilt or shame.

3. Connect With Your Body: HAES helps you appreciate your body for all the amazing things it can do, instead of focusing on what it looks like.

4. Feel Better Inside and Out: By letting go of the hurtful messages of body shaming, HAES can help you feel happier, less stressed, and more at peace with yourself.

Ready to Make a Change?

If body shaming has left you feeling hurt and alone, you don't have to go through it on your own. Jillian is here to help you heal from the pain of body shaming and find a path to self-love and well-being.


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