Friend of Shapely Prose Sheila Addison is soon going to be teaching an awesome-sounding course on size acceptance for future marriage and family therapists, and she needs ideas for the course reader she’s compiling. Help her out, shapelings! -Kate
by Dr. Sheila Addison
Friends in the Fatosphere:
Recently, The Rotund asked What Do We Do? when we get frustrated at the hatred, the misinformation, the MeMe Roths and medical scare stories. Readers talked in the comments about the importance of being visible and fighting misinformation through their blogs and in their personal lives.
Here’s what I’m doing.
I teach in an MA Counseling Psychology program. And this coming spring quarter, I’ll be offering a one-unit class on Size Acceptance/Health At Every Size.
PSY 5309, Size Acceptance in a Systems Framework
Dr. Sheila Addison
The “Size Acceptance” and “Health At Every Size” movements have emerged as powerful critiques of our culture’s focus on thin as the only acceptable body shape, and weightloss at all costs. Based in both scientific and cultural critiques, these movements challenge us to look beyond an unquestioning acceptance of dieting and “the obesity epidemic.” Working with clients from a size acceptance perspective requires understanding the critiques of “conventional wisdom” regarding body size, a psychosocial understanding of clients’ fear of fatness, and insight into self-of-the-therapist issues that arise around our own bodies and dieting histories when clients come in with size concerns. This course will not teach clinicians how to help their clients diet more effectively; instead, it will teach the “Health At Every Size” approach that affirms every person’s right to break free from weightloss mandates and instead focus on body positivity and wellness.
I’m really excited about the class, since in my experience, while the action I can take in my personal life is important (I recently had a thin friend tell me that she complained when she found Weight Watcher’s pamphlets at her doctor’s office, thanks to conversations we’ve had about how diets don’t work), one of the best parts of being a teacher for future therapists is that I can cast a wider net of influence. When I share my perspectives on gender, sexual identity, race, social justice, and, yes, FAT with my students, it gives me hope that when they see their own clients someday, they’ll be more likely to practice in ways that help rather than harm.
So here’s where you all come in.
The book I’m using for the class is “The Obesity Myth” (and, did you know it was out of print? I didn’t! WTF?). But I’m also trying to put together a course reader, using news stories, essays, book chapters, and posts from the blogosphere.
What I’d like to know is: What would you consider the most important pieces of writing in your journey toward size acceptance? What made you have “aha” moments, about your own body or the bodies of others? If you have a child or a partner who is fat, are there things you’ve read that have addressed your feelings about them? (Because this is a class for future Marriage and Family Therapists, I’m addressing these issues in the context of relationships and families as well as for individuals.)
If you reference something in print, tell me the name of the source please. If you mention something online, a link would be great. Thanks in advance for your help! Maybe eventually I’ll be able to turn this material into a journal article or a conference presentation, and reach even more people.