For as long as we can remember, weight and health have been inextricably tied together. During the early and mid-Victorian era, several health and beauty books echoed the popular 19th-century sentiment that plumpness equaled good health. Today, health and beauty take on a different look depending on who you ask (Kim Kardashian isn’t the poster girl for health per se, but she has undoubtedly set the new beauty standard for the 21st everyday woman). Weight and body size have been the go-to metric for health, and whilst it’s undoubtedly convenient, the overreliance on such measures has led to more harm than good.
This is where the Health at Every Size (HAES) movement comes in. Its mission is simple: to reject the current health metrics and promote self-care and define health more inclusively. As with most social movements, it’s a huge undertaking, and there’s a lot to unpack and change. But if you’re looking for an inclusive health movement to get behind, HAES is sure to create a safe space for you. Learn more about this movement below.
HAES: The Inclusive Movement for All
Simply put, HAES believes that people deserve an environment that supports their health, one without any strict structures, restrictions, and limitations. In an ideal world, creating such an environment is easy as everybody has equal access to health and wellness. But we all know that this isn’t the case.
To cultivate a healthy lifestyle, tackling other social determinants is important. But even that is not without limitations. Rather than taking such a massive undertaking of unpacking and dismantling complicated structures, HAES opts for a simpler approach: promoting healthy living within one’s means. If you can’t commit to an extreme transformation, baby steps are fine too.
HAES Is Not Anti-Weight Loss
It’s easy to misunderstand the HAES movement to be something that promotes anti-weight loss. To the non-initiated, this approach may appear to promote obesity and health-related ailments – which it does not.
As mentioned, the issue of overemphasis on weight and healthy living is highly complicated and multi-faceted. HAES recognises that it’s both a micro and macro matter, one that inevitably becomes a never-ending loop. It’s not a surprise to learn that many who use weight as a proxy of health often have a strained relationship with foods, their bodies and psyches. To release oneself from these shackles to pursue overall wellness, it’ll take years to unlearn and start from scratch. As if this is not arduous enough, weight bias in healthcare only makes it even more challenging.
Instead, HAES shifts the focus from unhealthy, weight-centric interventions to healthy behaviours that can improve symptoms and quality of life. There may or may not be weight loss, but individuals can enjoy improved wellbeing regardless.
Creating a Healthy Lifestyle With HAES
Let’s face it, individuals of higher body weight don’t have it easy. One look at the unsolicited comments thrown at Lizzo and her body is enough to understand how it can appear to be a zero-sum game: if they don’t exercise, they’re regarded as a failure; if they are healthy and fat, they’re regarded as a failure. It’s made to be more challenging with flawed health metrics. The arbitrary BMI binary, whilst popular, is a flawed model. Its simplistic and linear nature doesn’t account for other factors that may contribute to one’s weight.
In one’s journey towards healthy living, the only thing that should matter is how one feels in their body. Lizzo has said multiple times that she is not only healthy and strong, but she feels good in her body - and that’s all that matters! HAES is a strong advocate for being healthy from the inside, emphasising on healthy nutrition intake and regular exercise. Results are also not heavily stressed upon, preferring one to journey at their own pace.
The Journey to Healthy Living Is Not Linear
The journey to health and wellness is not linear, which is reflected in HAES’ philosophy. It firmly rejects interventions that promise instant gratification and instead, promotes fostering healthy long-term behaviour changes and self-care.
Transforming your lifestyle is a huge undertaking. Taking the first step can seem daunting and challenging for some, especially in the face of prejudice. But changes can start small.At Anya Active, we wish to help you take that first step. We believe in making you feel good about where you are right now, while cheering you on and celebrating every milestone. Just like the HAES movement, we believe that self-improvement should be inclusive and is meant to be fun for all body types. And we believe in walking the talk, which is why our wide range of quality activewear is designed to make physical activity more comfortable and enjoyable for women, including plus sized women. Browse through our online catalogue of ladies sportswear, suitable for both low and high intensity workouts. Shop online or head down to our store in Singapore to try it in-store.