Body Respect: An interview with Drs. Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor
Anyone interested in health, weight, and wellness will find value in Lucy Aphramor and Linda Bacon’s new book: Body Respect: What Conventional Health Books Get Wrong, Leave Out, and Just Plain Fail to Understand about Weight. Whether you are already a proponent of the Health at Every Size® approach, on the fence, or convinced it lacks merit, you are doing yourself a disservice not to read this book from cover to cover. The authors manage to combine their separate voices into one as they deliver the latest most up to date research on the efficacy of HAES®, the importance of a weight neutral approach to wellness, and why we need to give up ineffective fad diets in order to change our natural body types. Bacon and Aphramor resist the temptation of weighing their points of view down in too much rhetoric or “preachy” diatribes and opt to share their research and insights in a casual conversational style. After reading the book, I was delighted to be able to pose some questions to Lucy and Linda about Body Respect and I would like to share their responses with you!
Interview with Lucy Aphramor, with support from co-author Linda Bacon
Q: What would you tell someone who knows nothing about what Body Respect is about, and what would you tell someone who is already familiar with HAES and are wondering why they should read this if they already read Linda’s first book, Health at Every Size?
A: People come to HAES through different routes. Those who have come across HAES as an answer to a lifetime of failed dieting often know HAES through the personal rewards of being at peace with food and our bodies. These readers may be familiar with Linda’s first book and the self-care aspects of HAES covered in detail there. Her fan mail attests to this being life-changing and it offers HAES as a turning point to the emotional havoc wreaked by body shame. It’s an invaluable “how to” for people wanting out from the misery of dieting, teaching mindful eating, enjoyable movement and self-acceptance robustly supported with science.
For others, the appeal of HAES is that it offers a way to bridge this compassionate self-care with attention to social justice. This framing of HAES puts our relationships – with self, other, society and environment – to the forefront when talking health. Now we can help people make sense of how life circumstances influence health outcomes. These readers may be familiar with Lucy’s Well Now course that constructs HAES as a deep movement and will recognize concepts such as allostasis, relational nutrition, active embodiment and binary thinking. In short, Body Respect embraces the three pillars of HAES that support personal change around food, fitness and size acceptance and shows how these apply within a framework that has equity and respect as cornerstones.
Another key difference between the books is their length. Body Respect is intended to be a short, accessible guide, great for quickly getting people on board with HAES. Turn to Linda’s first book for more background storytelling.
Q: Do you have a favorite part of the book?
A: Skip right through to the end section and the story of Janet going to see her HAES nurse practitioner, Billie. You really get a sense for the combined power of compassion and good science in action. The capacity of compassion to move people towards self-care speaks for itself in this vignette. Moreover, we get a feel for how the ethos of non-judgment is fostered by Billie’s approach. First, she helps Janet take her emotional knowing and her other embodied, and everyday life experiences seriously. Second, she draws on the science to arrive at a more accurate, and holistic, explanation of high blood pressure which allows her to offer a response that is more relevant. This response surfaces oppression as a health variable, leading Janet to new insights that help her make sense of her condition and potentially impact her friends and family. This is empowering in the true sense of the word; it offers hope and vision for political action to address inequity. By contrast, the nurse practitioner who treats Janet from a weight-centric view, while just as committed to patient welfare and professional integrity, ends up along a trajectory of blame and shame as the only explanation she can imagine for Janet’s continued raised blood pressure is non-compliance with lifestyle change recommendations. The frustration on both sides is palpable, and the harm occurs directly, through missed opportunity and in the terrible sequelae of silencing and disempowerment that maintain the status quo.
Q: Are you working on any other publications that you would like to let people know about?
A. We’re glad you asked and yes, we’re excited to be working on two further collaborations. One is a revised version of Linda’s first book, updated with new data and behind-the-scenes stories, and presented more as a step-by-step how-to. The book will be easily adaptable for therapy or support groups.
The second is tentatively called, Eat Well: For Yourself and for the World, which delves deeply into nutritional science with chapter headings much along the lines of a typical undergraduate dietetic textbook. No prizes for guessing for some of the things that make it different from comparable mainstream books are a weight science chapter from a HAES perspective, plus attention to sustainability. We’re also concerned with how oppression directly affects individual metabolism and therefore contributes to avoidable discrepancies in health outcomes from conditions misleadingly referred to as “lifestyle” diseases. And it also moves more consciously to use a relational and embodied framework to talk about nutrients and bodies and how we make food choices rather than the reductionist and prescriptive framework commonly adopted in nutrition and dietetic books.
Q: Where and when can people purchase Body Respect?
A. First try your independent local book seller … Failing that, it’s now available in all the “usual places” including Amazon. Our website provides links to the various vendors. There’s also a link for educators considering it as a textbook supplement for adoption. The link for ordering a review copy can be found on Lucy and Linda’s website.
If anyone would like to share their impressions of Body Respect, please feel free to do so in the comments section.
Weight Stigma Awareness Week is coming up on September 22nd. To find out more about it CLICK HERE. In honor of WSAW, anyone who orders Dr. Deah’s Calmanac during that week from my website will receive a free refrigerator magnet with the Sassy Size Acceptance Slogan: “My only weight problem is YOUR problem with my weight!
Til next time,