Jul 13, 2008

HAES and Dance

H.A.E.S. = Health At Every Size. For those of you who are familiar with the fat acceptance movement, HAES is familiar and probably somewhat second-nature to you. For those of you are unfamiliar with it, HAES is an approach to eating that focuses on intuition and body cues of what to eat in addition to joyful movement and exercise rather than dieting and exercising for the specific purpose of weight loss. In other words, living a healthy life (physically, mentally, and emotionally) instead of focusing solely on the number on a scale.

However, this post isn't so much about HAES -- you can easily google HAES and find much better summaries of the theory (wikipedia has a good one). No, this post is more about my own experience with HAES and how it has transformed my life. And, to be clear, I realize that "transformed my life" has been overused and has become quite cliche, but still, it has transformed my life! What do you mean by this, you might ask? Here is what I mean:

I no longer berate myself for wanting a cookie after dinner.
I no longer tell myself I'm weak for choosing regular Coke over Diet.
I no longer blame myself and think myself unworthy because a guy looks at my skinnier friend over me.
I no longer dread working out as if it's a kind of torture that I deserve because I'm fat.
I am no longer afraid of wearing a bathing suit in public.
I wear sleeveless shirts.
I stand up straight.
I am no longer upset by what I look like when I undress.
I LOVE how I look when I'm undressed, yes, even the rolls and stretch marks.
I am in touch with my body in a way I never thought I could be.

These are just a few benefits of HAES off the top of my head. But, one of the tools that has helped me learn to love my body more than anything else is dance. I love to dance. Fucking love it more than anything else in the world. And for the longest time, I thought that dance was one of the things I could look forward to doing when I got skinny, when my body got to the approriate size to dance. I would longingly watch others dance, I would fantasize about dancing, I would subtly bop my head to music in the car, but I was very careful to not dance...nope, couldn't be seen dancing, because then I would be the fat girl dancing, and we all know how ridiculous that would look. There was also a sense of self-punishment that I had before HAES that kept me from dancing. Like, I didn't deserve to dance because only beautiful bodies looked good dancing...only beautiful THIN bodies looked good dance. Hah! That was before I started dancing. I quickly realized how beautiful a large body can look dancing. Graceful, powerful, lovely, feminine, joyful.

Truly, dancing is the joy that has helped me reclaim my body. It has taught me that my body can naturally move beautifully. That I can be in tune with it, that it listens and I listen and we are the same, me and my body. It is a gift. And, I encourage anyone, ANYONE, no matter what size, no matter what "talent", dance your heart out. Whatever music moves you, explore your body through dance. It will give you insight into your body, into your self, and if you are like me, it will do wonders for you on your journey toward self-acceptance.

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