As I have not read the book and don't know everything about HAES, is it true that it's against weight loss? Because I am all for people losing weight if that's what they want!As far as I can tell from the book I read and some of the HAES blogs I have browsed, yes, a weight loss goal is incompatible with a Health at Every Size outlook. I am not well-versed in the movement as a whole, so perhaps others with more knowledge will chime in.
The first half of Linda Bacon's book is an explanation of why she believes purposeful, sustained weight loss is not only impossible, but unnecessary. She takes apart scientific studies that suggest that being outside a certain BMI range means health risks, and she also discusses the biological reasons that weight loss is so difficult. There is also a discussion of why there is no "ideal" size range and why body diversity is so important.
HAES is a philosophy that treats "sizism" like other types of discrimination like racism, sexism, and heterosexism. The last one is probably the closest analogy, because a central argument of the gay rights movement is that sexual orientation is a trait that is set at birth. Few reputable social scientists would suggest anymore, as they used to in the past, that a person could just escape discrimination by trying to live as a straight person. Linda Bacon seems to be making a similar argument for weight, that once someone gains weight, the body resists losing it and, therefore, few of us can make voluntary changes to our weight.
I think she effectively proves (along with all the real-life evidence I have seen, and lived) that permanent weight loss is extremely difficult. She doesn't say it is impossible but suggests that this should not be the goal. The goal should be, as the title suggests, living healthfully at whatever size you are. This means eating a healthy diet, following your body's natural hunger signals, and learning to enjoy activity. The second half of the book lays out this plan.
You may notice, as I did, that the techniques discussed in this second half might very well result in weight loss. It didn't, in Bacon's HAES study, but that was not her goal. She does suggest that (as she herself did) these women would lose weight gradually over time as their bodies adjusted to the new habits. However, again, this is not the goal of the program.
The differences here between HAES and, say, Geneen Roth's programs are really just a matter of the long-term goal. Roth also preaches self-acceptance and self-care but does say that this should result in weight loss. Bacon does not make weight loss part of the discussion because she is making a diversity argument.
I do agree that we should value people no matter what their size. I think where I disagree with the HAES movement is that I think there is a healthy body size range, one that is wider than the current media ideal (which seems to range between size 0 and size 4) but that does have an upper limit somewhere, though I will avoid setting some arbitrary number. I do believethat it is better to be fit and fat than to be thin and inactive. I don't know where this places me on the whole HAES spectrum.
This is probably just intellectual to many people but it does matter to me what my intention is, and I feel I would be dishonest if I tried to follow the HAES philosophy, because I would still, at my core, want to lose weight. Does this make sense?