'There is more to a person than their body size'

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It is gratifying to see women of all sizes comfortable in their skin without shame or fear.
It is gratifying to see women of all sizes comfortable in their skin without shame or fear.
Photo : Leo Patrizi
  • Health At Every Size, an anti-weight discrimination movement, promotes weight acceptance in society.
  • The movement focuses on socio-economic injustices and the emotional harm and mental health impact caused by the prevalence of weight stigma and biases. 
  • Weight inclusivity means accepting and respecting the diversity of body shapes and sizes. 

It is gratifying to see women of all sizes comfortable in their skin without shame or fear while conversations around body positivity are also being championed.

We live in a society that has ignorantly made policing women's bodies and weight a norm. For a long time only a specific body type and size was perceived right while others had to 'fix' and work towards being accepted.  

READ MORE | Be kind to your body on lockdown, look to the diversity of people in the real world 

I am a curvy girl. Growing up, I was obsessed with covering my 'big bum' up. I worried what people would say if I didn't, and to an extent, it made me believe that my body type and size were wrong and unaccepted.

I would not wear pants. Crazy enough, I only started wearing pants in my twenties, and if I did, I wore a long top to hide my bum and thighs.

Looking back at the experience, I realise how much I caved into the societal perceptions about a woman's body.

Although more work needs to be done to shift perspective around body positivity, movements such as Health At Every Size (HAES) are helping to create a space for change to happen. HAES advocates for a weight-neutral approach to address health.

The organisation believes in the acceptance and respect for all body shapes and sizes and rejects the idealising or pathologising of specific body sizes.

READ MORE | Praise for Kim Kardashian’s Skims ignores her family’s relationship with body augmentation

The spokesperson for the Association for Dietetics in South Africa Nathalie Mat says, "It [HAES] highlights the damage of weight stigma and negative biases that people living in larger bodies face.

"Imagine going to the doctor with a hereditary condition [diabetes, high blood pressure] and being told that the solution is weight loss instead of receiving proper care. This happens to people living in bigger bodies."

READ MORE | Body positivity: Why you need to be kind to yourself and others  

Mat continues to say there is increasing evidence that weight alone is not the most important determinant of health.

"As a population, South Africans are talking about inclusion and tolerance more than ever before," Nathalie adds. 

In 2021, a group of South African dietitians created Non-Diet South Africa.

Gayle Landau, a registered dietitian and certified intuitive eating counsellor, says, "WHO defines health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."

HAES says the anti-weight discrimination movement focuses on socio-economic injustices and the emotional harm and mental health impact caused by the prevalence of weight stigma and biases.

"There is more to a person than their body size," the organisation stresses.

Information provided by Liquidlingo Communications on behalf of ADSA (Association for Dietetics in South Africa)

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