Friday, August 14, 2009

Workshop Help!

So I've agreed to do a workshop in two weeks on basic body acceptance. I tried FA specifically as a topic, but was asked to broaden it (insert rimshot) to basically address how to accept and appreciate your body no matter what size it is.

Help! Where do I even start!?

If you were doing/hearing a workshop on body acceptance for the first time and had never read any kind of FA or HAES book...what would you want included? What would you want your friend/family member/daughter to hear on the topic as their first introduction?

The attendees will probably be a dozen or so adults (between 18 and 40) I know really well (for me it's always harder to speak to strangers I'll never see again...the distance helps my brain work better). They're close friends or family, including (eek!) my parents. Only a few of them have heard me rant on the subject. I know that there are at least two I expect to attend who are recovering from ED's, at least three current dieters, one struggling with long-term ill effects of WLS, and several who hate on their bodies on a regular basis. I expect them mostly to be women (except maybe JD if he's not doing his own workshop). They're strong but relatively open-minded on most subjects, primarily Pagan or Heathen, and will probably not give me too much heckle if I challenge their paradigms.

Last time this kind of topic came up I tried to convince a friend that it was a contradiction to be both accepting/proud of your body as an independent woman, and planning what plastic surgery and face/boob/butt lifts she wanted. The idea that the motivation to let yourself be cut open, sucked out and stitched back together came from external and semi-invisible pressures of society rather than the desire to be good to yourself took all night and into the next morning. But it did eventually get through.

So...any ideas on where to start? Basic concepts you think should be covered any time someone's doing a body acceptance workshop?

I'm heading off for the weekend, but I'll consider anything I find in the comments when I get back a real help :-)


littlem said...

Geneen Roth
Kim Chernin
Susie Orbach

Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby's book.

These are just authors off the top of my head (it's been a real crap day) -- perhaps if they're not right in your library you can have someone guide you to relevant excerpts.

And check out Julia and Leslie's fatshionista blog for work on intersectionality, if you're ready to get that deep.

Gotta go -- good luck.

living400lbs said...

Second Lessons from the Fatosphere, since that is mostly about acceptance.

Fat!So? might also be of help. It is has some funny things you could adapt, like the anatomy lessons ;)

It might also be good to distribute copies of the UCLA diet review to point out that major changes to weight do not last for most people, and so self-acceptance is better in the long run.

Deb Burgard, Ph.D. said...

Hi - Just happened by for the first time and saw that you are asking for body image workshop ideas - please feel free to poke around on I have found the "Body Appreciation" meditation particularly moving for people. Another less intense thing to do is to have people imagine that a chemical gets in the water which makes everyone's weight freeze right where it is, never to change. How do you feel? How does your life change? This gets at the energy people spend organizing their lives around the mission of weight loss - and the fantasy of being thin - and what else they could be doing with that time and energy. And if you are already no longer organizing your life around it, how your life would change if the people in your life were no longer organizing their lives around it. And so on. Best wishes!

wellroundedtype2 said...

So, one thing I think about is that in nature, we can be very accepting of diversity of "size" in nature -- animals of the same species might vary greatly in size depending on a number of factors, and we don't "blame" them for this.
I think the "HAES pledge" and other resources on Linda Bacon's page might be helpful.
And reading (or re-reading) Jon Robison's web page is good, too. There's a link there to an edition of a worksite wellness magazine that he helped edit. I recommend looking at the resources he has.
Best of luck! I would love to do something similar.
You might also talk about the mind/body duality in some religions and how this contributes to body hate -- and how it differs from the beliefs that members of the audience may share about the integrated mind/body/self. Also, the disparaging of the female body in the same vein.

Anonymous said...

One of the most dramatic things that a teacher ever did was walk in and divide us into groups. She handed each group a small dixie cup and a tube of toothpaste. She asked everyone to unscrew the toothpaste and put it in the cup, and by the end of class each group would have to come up with an idea to put the paste back into the tube. The lesson was that nobody could put the toothpaste back into the tube and keep the tube intact. The paste was like the words that are spilled out from people's mouths that could potentially hurt someone. Once it is out you can never put it back in. Even a little bit. It was to help teach us to think before we spoke, and teaching people about size acceptance is the same thing. A lot of people talk about it without knowing or thinking. It's harmful and can also be dangerous.

It was just a nifty trick I always wanted to use in my class but have never been able to as of yet.

wriggles said...

I tried FA specifically as a topic, but was asked to broaden it (insert rimshot) to basically address how to accept and appreciate your body no matter what size it is.

Rimshot is right.

As you've written so much interesting and thoughtful stuff already, you might trying writing your notes about it, and change any FA reference to that of size acceptance.

And chuckle to yourself inside the whole while.

Best of luck.

SharonC said...

Yay! scales!!!!!!

alice said...

I *love* the chemical in the water idea - debunking the fantasy of being thin is a great one, and I couldn't think of a good way to use it without a lot of background - this one is superb.

IDK how much time you have, or how well it'd work in a group where people know each other, but you could have everyone start at the beginning by anonymously writing down positive comments about the other people's *appearances*. At the end, you could select a couple for each person and distribute them (or read them aloud). It reinforces the idea that other people's opinions of you matter, but also gets to the fact that even before they took a SA class, other people see good things about us much easier than we can see them ourselves. (This can be underscored by having people write 5-10 nice things about their body directly afterwards.)

Bookwyrm said...

"Fitness" as requiring the question "fit for what?" Does your mind and body do what you require of it and have a bit left over for emergencies? If so, it's fit for YOUR life. If you take fifteen or twenty minutes to travel a mile but can compose a business letter, you'd not be a fit olympic runner but might very well be a fit office worker.

Health: Correlations are not causation. Dark skin is associated with sickle cell anemia, but skin bleaching treatments are not recommended to reduce the risk; over- or under-weight may be associated with many things, but this does not mean that changing your weight will reduce your risk.