I just want to start this with a bit about my personal history. I’m a pretty average-sized person, but I feel like HAES has had a huge positive impact on my life, especially as I was recovering from an eating disorder. I just want to share it as an example of how fat phobia and fear of weight gain impacts people of all body types.
My sophomore year of college, my family switched GPs. At the time, I was recovering from an eating disorder, during the course of which I’d lost a significant amount of weight, putting me just barely outside the category of “underweight.” I hadn’t really shared my mental health problems with my family’s GP, but I was nervous, I guess, and because my weight was still technically “normal,” my eating habits were never flagged as a problem.
Flash forward to the first visit with the new GP. All of that year at school, I’d been focusing on eating healthy, regaining the weight that I’d lost, and strength training and functional fitness. I also hadn’t weighed myself in about a year. When it came time to take my weight for the physical, the new GP asked me to tell her what I thought my weight was/had last been when I weighed myself. I don’t know if this was because she didn’t actually have my chart from the previous GP, or if she just thought it would be fun to embarrass me. At any rate, I guessed a number ten or fifteen pounds higher than I’d been the last time I weighed myself.
It turned out I weighed probably ten pounds more than that. This triggered an unending discussion of how being away at school was no excuse for gaining weight, how I needed to be eating healthy and exercising, etc. When I described my actual exercise routine, she basically accused me of lying. This wasn’t on a par with the misdiagnoses some people have written in about, but I felt so crushed to have spent the whole year trying to gain weight and become stronger, only to have a physician insist that my eating disorder was actually “healthier.” I haven’t been back to that GP since, but the same woman has constantly bullied my mom about her weight, even though she is perfectly healthy.