Outsiders and eccentrics.

I spent the weekend with a bunch of people who are dissatisfied in various ways with how dietetics is practiced and taught.

And I thought, this is a good bunch of people.

We talked about healthism, and expectations of dietitians’ bodies, and feminist theory, and critical theory, and disability, racism, exclusion, food systems, agriculture, hunger, food insecurity, activism, queer theory, poetry, the environment, and just…everything. We laughed, we ate, we commiserated, we congratulated, we drank beer. Some of us even cried a little.

And it reaffirmed my faith that I belong in nutrition, even when — maybe especially when — I feel like an outsider and eccentric.

Because we need outsiders and eccentrics, or we don’t make progress.

For one of the very few times in my life, and the first time in a group of other nutrition people, I was able to openly say that I believe in fat acceptance and health at every size. And people just nodded and said, “Cool.” No raised eyebrows. No clucking. Just genuine interest from allies of every stripe.

It felt like we could talk about anything, and it felt like something new was born, right there in front of me — a movement toward expanding nutrition outward from its compact singularity of vitamins and chemistry, into a vivid universe capable of encompassing the messy realities of human lives and human cultures. Critical dietetics. Radical dietetics.

I was lucky to be there. As one of the participants said in his talk, “I have found my people.”

And it turns out that my people are outsiders and eccentrics, like me.

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17 Comments

  1. deeleigh
    Posted June 15, 2009 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Yay!! So glad it went well this weekend.

  2. Posted June 16, 2009 at 12:45 am | Permalink

    we need outsiders and eccentrics, or we don’t make progress
    Yes.

    I know how hard it is to feel like the only one of anything, or as though the people who share your beliefs are far away. I’m so glad you found a group of cohorts. That retreat looked AWESOME. I can’t wait to see what comes out of it. That’s dietetics!
    Creativity, compassion, vision, hope, understanding — applied to health — that’s powerful!

    • Posted June 16, 2009 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      Hahha, I’m sure you totally know what it’s like, wrt2, to be the eccentric in your field. I’m really hoping some great stuff comes out of it — the ideas people came up with were nothing short of brilliant.

      And I wanted to say congrats on joining Angry Gray Rainbows. I’m really looking forward to your stuff. I’ll be a regular!

  3. Lisa
    Posted June 16, 2009 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    How nice! You’ll find another group of very welcoming ‘outsiders and eccentrics’ at ASDAH. You should join :)

    • Posted June 16, 2009 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      Oh, I’m definitely planning to, Lisa! I think ASDAH will rock.

  4. Posted June 16, 2009 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Oh that sounds wonderful! It reminds how I felt two weekends back when I attended an annual pagan gathering and caught up with a bunch of people I knew and met a bunch I didnt know. It was like coming home.

    I am on ASDAH, you certainly need to join!

  5. Posted June 16, 2009 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    I can’t tell you how excited I am to know about this! I need more allies in the field. (I teach/write about nutrition.) Let’s be sure to all connect at ASDAH.
    Linda Bacon

  6. Posted June 16, 2009 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Haha, yes Linda, I totally know who you are! I think lots of the people interested in “critical dietetics” are open to and welcoming of a HAES orientation. (And, of course, I loved your book.)

    Now I wish I were able to go to the ASDAH conference this summer, but I just don’t think it can happen. But definitely next year.

  7. Posted June 16, 2009 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Yay outsiders and eccentrics!

    (I tried to post here before, but I was on an IE-only computer and it wouldn’t let me. You’re doing great work around here!)

    • Posted June 16, 2009 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

      Meowser, are you saying that my blog comments aren’t accessible to people using IE? I’d better check that out!

  8. Posted June 16, 2009 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t checked out ASDAH yet, but I seem to be eccentric and an outsider everywhere, in everything. That’s okay, I’m learning to look for my peeps outside the mainstream as well. I also can empathize and somewhat understand all sides, usually can respect or tolerate viewpoints I don’t. OK, cat is mushing my boob, not helping. Bye!

    • Posted June 17, 2009 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      Hey Julie — good to see you. And your, er, amorous cat.

      ASDAH is Association for Size Diversity and Health, and their website can be found at http://sizediversityandhealth.org/

      I’ve always been planning to join ASDAH and DC (Dietitians of Canada) in my last year of school. And here I am, in my last year of school, so I’d better get on it.

  9. Posted June 16, 2009 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    Oops, that’s respect/tolerate viewpoints even that I don’t agree with. Cat really not helping!

  10. Posted June 16, 2009 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    I actually JUST posted about my first visit to my new nutritionist and what an incredibly positive experience it was…to finally, finally have a health professional nod when I mentioned HAES and not have ANY negative commentary, even of the most subtle sort, to make about it.

    I think I can honestly say that it may have been the first time in my adult life I sat across from a health provider and didn’t think “she sees me as a fat person with problems, not as a person with problems.” I could truly believe that she really did see ME in all my complexity and not solely the single facet that is my fatness. When I mentioned to my sister (a social worker in training) how it had gone, she asked me if all nutritionists were that way…and I could tell her with some experience that no, they were not.

    I’m glad you found your people because it makes me happy that there are more people like you out there :)

    • Posted June 17, 2009 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      Heidi — your post was awesome. I am so glad you found a good nutritionist. Rock on.

  11. Posted June 17, 2009 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Ha! I knew I recognized that acronym! I stuck a little link to the ASDAH website in an e-mail I was compelled to forward on about a WW group in the building next to ours. I have to forward on messages from our building management company to everyone here at work but I just couldn’t neutrally send it on without a disclaimer, so I went with the ASDAH site as a professional organization that isn’t promoting anything but presents the idea of HAES.

    Several people commented on how they’d appreciated my addition to the e-mail, incidentally.

    It seems like a great organization!

  12. Jacqui
    Posted June 25, 2009 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    it feels good to find our people – onward!

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