Fat Accptance and Family/Marriage Therapy

Over at Shapely Prose, Dr. Sheila Addison is looking for recommended reading for a class she is teaching on size acceptance in family/marriage therapy.

This was my input, and I encourage you to head over there and add your own!

Kate Harding's "Don't You Realize That Fat Is Unhelathy" and "The Fantasy of Being Thin" are definitely two of the best introductions to size acceptance I've ever read.

"Big Big Love" is an excellent book dealing with sexual relationships and self acceptance. I think in Marriage and family counseling you would come across a LOT of entitled fat hatred on the part of partners and parents who are not fat. Or parents who are fat and fantasize that they can "save" their child from fatness by shaming them and telling them nobody will find them attractive. Seriously, any partner who feels justified in harassing or leaving someone based on weight (no matter how acceptable and encouraged fat hatred has become) has issues of their own. They might also just use weight as the best tool to push the partner away so they aren't the "bad guy".

Fat?SO! Was also very formative for me, long before there was a fatosphere. Junkfood Science articles are extremely rational and evidence based analyses of the cultural hysteria that is the obesity epidemic and the science showing that fat is not the killer it is purported to be.

The best thing to emphasize is that fat people are no different from thin people or other social groups subject to prejudice (positive or negative). You cannot tell anything about a fat person by looking at their body. NOTHING. As with other groups, make no assumptions about your client and instead listen to them. If there are deep issues with eating or body image, they will emerge. The fact that they do not usually indicates that there are none, not deep denial. If someone tells you they eat less than their thin friends, believe them. If someone tells you that his insecurities as a father have little to do with size and everything to do with the way his parents *treated* him for his size, believe him. If food and size never come up, don't force the issue. If you must address weight because it does come up,do so in an accepting manner that is HAES and size positive. Keep things about psychological and behavioral issues and stay out of medical issues. Frame weight in terms of other prejudices to clarify how hurtful and unacceptable mistreatment of fat partners/parents/children really is. If you wouldn't say it about race or religion, it's prejudice and you're behaving rudely.


Hayley said...

Hi Mary!

Thanks for the heads up on this new book!

I suggest to take a look at this site: www.100percentpeople.com, although not specifically aimed at fat acceptance it has some great articles on BMI and plus-size issues!


Anonymous said...

"Men especially tend to hurt the partner as much as possible to force the partner to be "to blame" for the end of the relationship. "Well, SHE's the one who filed for divorce, I was willing to keep the marriage together while cheating on/raping/beating/emotionally abusing her. That's why I shouldn't have to pay child support." I see this a lot."

substitute the word "Men" with any other identifiable group and see if you don't feel a little ashame of this passage. Try out "Black Men" or "Fat Men" for starters. I realize this was not the author or the publisher of this blogs intent, but it is deeply offensive none the less and as a man dealing with issues of obesity and perception in my own life I find this deeply offensive and sweeping statements like this do not create understanding. I don't think women "especially" tend to hurt their partners as much as possible at the end of relationships. I think some people hurt their partners as much as possible at the end of relationships. I will say that women who engage who choose to be cruel while going through a break up rarely beat or rape their partners, but the above passage is unacceptable regardless.

Mary said...

I'm very sorry I offended you, I didn't mean to do so. I see your point about the generalization, and you are right that I am not proud of it after a second look. Thank you for calling me on it, you are completely right. I was thinking specifically about gender patterns in clinical contacts that should not be generalized. I certainly wasn't talking about all men or all divorces, and I'm glad that you assumed I wasn't.

:) If you'd like me to post some of the common nasty ways women end relationships, for balance, I can do that. :)

Anonymous said...

That would be silly. I understand where this is coming from and I appreciate your apology and acknowledgement.

Mary said...

I didn't think you'd really ask, hence the smileys. :)