I’ll offer my own experience of reconciling Health at Every Size with my history of being a fitness lunatic and disordered eater. First, it’s important to note that the HAES “movement” is different from HAES. A movement is people, and people are crazy, especially if they’re online in groups. You can have major problems with extreme viewpoints in the movement and still embrace the basic principles. So, there’s that little disclaimer.
Nobody in the throws of a restrictive eating disorder is a fan of Health at Every Size. If you were to believe that you (not random other people, YOU) could be incredibly happy, healthy, successful, confident, and loved without size and weight being factors, where does that leave your eating disorder? It’s a walls-crumbling, sky-falling threat to its very existence. How is it supposed to keep its claws in your brain if you relax and start taking care of yourself all willynilly? It can’t, so the fight is on. It will find every reason imaginable that the principles are wrong or don’t apply to you and you need to keep restricting and overtraining. It will go something like: “That’s great for other people but not for me. I’m different. I hold myself to higher standards. My body is different. The research is faulty. That can’t be healthy. There’s nothing wrong with caring about your appearance. I just like to workout.” My brain hit me with all of that and more, but only because the idea of releasing any control was so threatening to my perception of who I was as a person. I was my weight. I was my food choices. If I falter on those, I’m in danger of losing ME. How terrifying!
My perspective began to slowly shift as a result of my own personal experience, not any sooner, no one else could have convinced me. But the more I experienced myself being whole and ok with various food choices and at various weights, the less dire it all seemed.
Another way to look at Health at Every Size is simply "health." You're pursuing mental and physical health without weight being a factor. That does not mean you need to gain fat in order to be healthy, or that someone else needs to lose fat, or that people can never lose fat and shouldn't want to. It's saying leave size and weight out of it and focus on the self-care behaviors that directly improve health. Eating nutritious food, moving for the joy of it, managing stress, getting enough sleep, keeping up with your health screenings, feeling connected, having a purpose. Then it's not such a threatening concept.