Eight Signs of White Supremacy in HAES (Health at Every Size) and Ideas for Action

Lucy Aphramor
8 min readJun 9, 2020
Books that I’ve read to learn about liberatory teaching and thinking

Recent coverage of racist killings by police and civilians and racialized death rates from Covid have reignited awareness of the need for ideological integrity and strategy.

If your work dismantling diet culture stopped feeling relevant as part of the call to prioritise anti-racist action then the work you are doing is not actually dismantling diet culture. Because dismantling diet culture, truly undoing the logic of the binary and replacing it with an entirely different logic, is also the work of dismantling the intellectual regimes, systems of thought and feeling, and social structures, that interact to reproduce white supremacy.

HAES might have saved you, it might be saving your clients. It might be your entire business. It can still be flawed, yes?

I am not disputing the fact that HAES impacts people’s lives and thinking in profoundly significant ways. I’m saying white supremacy is everywhere. It lives in the practices and institutions we benefit from and believe in, including those we imagine are anti-oppressive. Including HAES.

I’m a radical dietitian and poet. I used to advocate for HAES, so I’ve been part of the harm. I mean, really advocate. I co-founded HAESUK, introduced HAES to the NHS, and wrote heaps. My published writing was mainly collaborative and with critical scholars I unpicked weight science, and we took on HAES lite. With HAES author Lindo Bacon I co-authored an article arguing for HAES that has over 358K hits plus the book Body Respect. I’m just saying, I’ve been around. I know the score.

HAES is exclusionary and colonial despite itself because it maps out the world to reductionist, Eurocentric contours. In this way, it relies on the supremacist values it is committed to fighting.

The core problem is a failure in praxis. HAES earnestly promises one thing, mistakenly enacts another.

HAES grew out of marginalised fat folks’ radical collective thought, action, and lived experience and provided a powerful alternative to fat people’s very real medical oppression. I know there’s different ways of practicing HAES. It might be that your way is still radical. The HAES I know through the actions, sensibilities, and…

Lucy Aphramor

Lucy Aphramor is a radical dietitian and performance poet. They are Associate Professor of Gender, Power, and The Right to Food at CAWR, Coventry University UK.

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