Forecast: Very HAESy Turning into Thunderstorms

The Woke Cancel Culture intermingled with white guilt and white shame is a growing weed threatening to choke out reason and common sense in the mental health field. And when reason and common sense are cancelled in the mental health arena, our loved ones die.
 
The Association for Size Diversity and Health (“ASDAH”) owns the registered trademark for Health at Every Size (“HAES”). Although HAES principles had been in existence for at least 40 years before ASDAH was organized, ASDAH states that it is, “… the holder and protector of the Health at Every Size® and HAES® trademarks …” 
 
Strange. If HAES principles are legitimate, universally acknowledged, embraced and applied, why do those principles need protecting, and from whom?
 
With regard to those HAES principles, ASDAH states: “… HAES is an inclusive movement, recognizing that our social characteristics, such as our size, race, national origin, sexuality, gender, disability status, and other attributes, are assets, and acknowledges and challenges the structural and systemic forces that impinge on living well.” ASDAH also states it, “Honors differences in size, age, race, ethnicity, gender, dis/ability, sexual orientation, religion, class, and other human attributes.
 
ASDAH’s states that to use HAES trademarks, services must adhere to five basic principles which are: weight inclusivity, health enhancement, respectful care, eating for well-being, and life-enhancing movement. 
 
I am confident all rational people agree that these principles are not only legitimate but should be universally and lovingly applied by all.
 
That is, unless you are thin and white.
 
As Lindo Bacon, PhD, one of most well-known HAES advocates recently discovered.
 
I don’t know Lindo Bacon. I have read various interviews and listened to a number of podcasts on which she appeared. I certainly do not agree with many of her talking points, but there are a number of issues upon which our views align.
 
She has spoken at numerous conferences and is regarded as one of the authoritative, preeminent voices on HAES. In 2008, her book, “Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight” was published. The book was revised and updated in 2010. Her book has been lauded by many and became one of the “go to” treatises for HAES.
 
In the past year, Bacon sought to revise her 2010 book and to find a co-author with very different identities than hers to assist in writing the new book. And that is where it all went terribly, terribly “off the rails.”
 
Apparently, Bacon believes in hierarchical working relationships with her at the top. She is a white supremist. Bacon has demonstrated white fragility, white supremacy culture, and performative allyship. Bacon epitomizes condescension and paternalism. Bacon has already considerably cost ASDAH financially and emotionally, taking resources away from their advocacy work in the community and causing harm to their team. Bacon must be held accountable for the repeated harm she has caused in the Fat Liberation and HAES Communities.  Because of this harm, ASDAH revoked Bacon’s membership with ASDAH and is disallowing Bacon from attending ASDAH events.
 
Bold words. And yet, those are NOT my views and opinions.
 
Instead, those are the views and opinions of the leadership at ASDAH. The same ASDAH which cancelled Bacon and demanded that she take down a website she owns, www.HAEScommunity.com. A community in which over 20,000 people had subscribed and where they could seek HAES informed treatment resources.
 
As Bacon sought to embark on the rewriting of her book, in a series of communications with one potential co-author, Bacon’s views and “toxic whiteness” came under attack. This possible co-author stated the following:
 
“… Um, as we’ve spoken about, like, there is a lot about the HAES paradigm that needs to be revised. Like a lot.”
 
“… what you’re describing in terms of like, control has sort of like the implication that this is like a hierarchical working relationship and that I’m not okay with”
 
“It doesn’t make sense to me to have a hierarchical working relationship when essentially HAES should be more accommodating of fat liberation politics. And I am the fat liberationist. And I’m also the person with lived experience of fatness. And so I don’t exactly see how it is justified for me to follow your lead on the next chapter of HAES, when really, like, my views are the ones that should be accommodated in the new version of HAES…”
 
“I also know that there is a baked in power dynamic between the two of us, but it’s not because you wrote the original book. It’s because you are a thin person who is trying to do transformative work in the space. But you are thin and I am fat and that is the power dynamic. I’m also Black and you are not. That is the power dynamic, not the fact that you wrote the original book.”
 
“I don’t know if I would base an entire chapter on self-acceptance. If anything, I would write a whole chapter on the fallacy of self-acceptance.”

“… there is never an instance in which a person who is marginalized wants someone else to speak on their behalf. They do it because they’re held hostage. They don’t have a choice. And so no one’s actually given you permission to speak on their behalf. It’s just sort of happened that way because you happen to be somebody in a privileged body who happens to line up with some of the values that we’re trying to promote and espouse.”

“I don’t think that your continued visibility is a positive thing in this space.”

Good Lord. “I am the fat liberationist. And I’m also the person with lived experience of fatness … like, my views are the ones that should be accommodated in the new version of HAES … But you are thin and I am fat and that is the power dynamic. I’m also Black and you are not. That is the power dynamic …
 
Has there ever been a clearer example of a person who does not understand that the Image of a Messenger is not important? The Image of the Messenger does not inspire people. Far from it. Instead, it is the “Power of the Message.” A message that flows through a “Person who Leads.” A title, or image doesn’t make anyone a Person who Leads. Persons who Lead show leadership no matter where they are in the workplace hierarchy. It is inherent.
 
We follow a Person who Leads because they believe in a person’s innate ability to take charge and change things in a positive, direct, progressive manner. A Person who Leads assumes a place of authority because they are able to communicate their vision honestly, with transparency and inspires others to follow. Persons who Lead do not demand authority. To the contrary. Persons who Lead not only listen to, but welcome voices who disagree with him/her. Authority is bestowed upon them through acclimation. Humility and a servant mentality are their sword and shield. Persons who Lead understand the Power of the Message.
 
When Bacon reached out to ASDAH regarding a rewrite of her 2010 book, she was berated and then cancelled:
 
“The ASDAH Leadership Team stands behind Veronica’s thoughtful response that publishing an updated version would do harm and damage to the community by continuing to center white, thin voices in the movement. The ASDAH Leadership Team does not approve of or agree with you moving forward with this project.”
 
“At ASDAH, among the Leadership Team, with our members, and the greater HAES® community, we’re interrogating how white supremacy culture shows up in our work, organizations, and community. In your interactions with Veronica you demonstrated white fragility, white supremacy culture, and performative allyship.”
 
“In closing, we are unequivocally unified in opposing a revised edition of Health at Every Size® written by you. It will do harm and will not uplift the nuanced and inclusive use of our trademark as we intend.”
 
“In order to keep our community safer for fat, Black, and Brown folks in ASDAH spaces, we are setting boundaries as the natural consequence for causing repeated harm.”
 
“It is evident that many if not the majority of people first associate Health at Every Size® with Lindo, and not as an evolving, community-led movement. To allow those most affected by fat hatred to lead HAES® into its next evolution, we ask that Lindo take down the HAES® Pledge Registry and HAEScommunity.com.”
 
“We are committed to centering and uplifting the most marginalized people in our communities. We invite Black, Brown, fat (especially superfat and larger folks), transgender, and disabled community members to let us know how we can continue making ASDAH a safer place by submitting your feedback to the Leadership Team.” 

Again … Good Lord. One of the very first principles upon which ASDAH allegedly stands is, “HAES is an inclusive movement.” However, when you look at ASDAH’s recent blog posting on “Where We Go From Here,” ASDAH makes the following statements:
 
“One of the tenants of white supremacy culture that we have been grappling with a lot as a leadership team is either/or and binary thinking when it comes to worshiping the “hero” and lambasting the “villain.” Some have painted ASDAH as a hero and Lindo as the villain in this situation.
 
“Though at this moment the focus is on the harm perpetrated by Lindo, in an effort to be self-accountable, we acknowledge and name the harm that ASDAH has historically caused over its almost 20-year history. A culture of white supremacy and complicity coupled with past decision-making and actions have created an environment where thin, white people are able to maintain power in conversations about HAES® and to harm fat, Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color, including our Vision & Strategy Leader, Veronica.
 
“At the beginning of this board year, our team decided on our grounding and guiding values. These include: abundance, curiosity, growth, integrity, intersectionality, trust, and well-being. These values inform our commitment to uprooting white supremacy and re-orienting to liberatory frameworks.”
 
“Around 2015, as body positivity and Health at Every Size® gained mainstream attention, things began to shift. The voices that were uplifted the most were those of thin, white women. By 2017, the ASDAH Leadership Team consisted of almost all thin, white people.”
 
 “… an Advisory Board team made up of folks with identities underrepresented in ASDAH’s leadership and membership was formed to support the organization in course correcting. Unfortunately, this group of fat, Black, brown, disabled, and otherwise marginalized folks was also harmed by ASDAH Leadership.”
 
“A scarcity mindset and white saviorism kept the organization stuck and unable to keep itself sustainably funded and resourced.” 
 
“Who can afford to provide uncompensated labor, but multiply privileged, and in ASDAH’s case, thin, white people?”
 
“We faced resistance from those who wanted to maintain the status quo of ASDAH, including many bureaucratic and white-supremacy-laden policies and procedures.” 
 
“Our highest priority for the 2022-2023 board year will be revising the HAES® principles. This project will be led by fat liberationists and Black feminists with significant input from our membership and the greater fat community. When Health at Every Size® is not firmly grounded in liberatory frameworks, it can become a tool for harm and impede fat liberation. The current principles uphold healthism and ableism while failing to adequately acknowledge the social determinants of health like racism and fatphobia.”
 
In ASDAH’s “Where Do We Go From Here?” manifesto, it references white supremacy or makes reference to thin, white women in a degrading manner no fewer than nine (9) times. And yet, ASDAH claims to be “all inclusive.”
 
To Dr. Bacon’s credit, after reflecting on the attempted professional and character assassination perpetrated by others, she issued a response which can be found here:
 
https://archive.ph/dQxLE
 
So as ASDAH recovers from the “egregious harm caused by Bacon” [ASDAH has never identified the specificity of the harm allegedly caused by Bacon … and to this day, I cannot identify what that alleged harm is … making more people aware of the HAES movement because of her books? Pushing to have HAES principles included as part of a more open, productive discussion regarding health? Nonetheless, our thoughts and prayers are with you ASDAH.], ASDAH is obviously going to turn very hard left, further politicize its beliefs and go running toward the very far left cancel culture which embraces one all powerful voice … its own.
 
As for the white, thin therapists looking for HAES informed counselors to refer patients be careful. You could be next on the ASDAH Cancel Culture Hit List. Lindo Bacon. Articles have been written about Jennifer Rollin and allegedly Shiva Rose. And always remember, there is never an instance in which a person who is marginalized wants you to speak on their behalf. They only do it because they’re held hostage. They don’t have a choice. And so, no one has actually given you permission to speak on their behalf. [Again, their words, not mine.] But just know when you do, you are perpetuating a toxic, power dynamic hierarchy in which you occupy the top rung.
 
The HAES movement at its core was supposed to be about fairness and equality. It was about casting off the shackles of prejudice of a society that wrongly places value on the model thin body. It was about fighting against the non-acceptance of a person. It was about destroying stereotyping a person because of how they look. Now it is about cancelling thin, white advocates no matter the cost to their own movement and principles. [Those 20,000 plus people depending on HAESCommunity.org will just have to find their resources elsewhere! After all, don’t they know that the person who started that website is inherently evil and has been hurting ASDAH in some way so sinister that even ASDAH cannot articulate exactly how it was damaged.]
 
One final message to ASDAH … On behalf of the families whose loved ones have suffered or are suffering from eating disorders and those in eating disorder community, leave us alone. We don’t need your faux anguish, your self loathing, white guilt, and victim mentality. Our families are fighting for the very lives of their loved ones.
 
And in their case, the cancelling of a life is exactly that. The ending of a life.

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