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11: 30 Years in the Size-Acceptance Movement with Jeanne Courtney, MFT

30 Years in the Size-Acceptance Movement with Jeanne Courtney, MFT
Jeanne Courtney, MFT

Today I’m talking with Jeanne Courtney, a psychotherapist in private practice in El Cerrito, California, specializing in LGBTQ issues, anxiety, depression and body image from a Health at Every Size® perspective. She’s the author of a paper published in the Journal of Lesbian Studies called Size Acceptance as a Grief Process: Observations from Psychotherapy with Lesbian Feminists.

Jeanne was first introduced to the size acceptance movement over 30 years ago and we talk about what changes she has seen during that time. She also talks about how almost every woman who walks into her office, regardless of what brought them into therapy initially, eventually reveals some form of body shame. 

Show Highlights:

  • Her introduction in the size acceptance movement in the 1980’s
  • How she was skeptical at first and then came to see how feminism intersected with body size
  • Lesbian feminists led the way early on in the movement
  • There is a body shame epidemic, rather than an obesity epidemic
  • A nurse in an oncology department congratulated her dying wife on her weight loss that was due to cancer
  • Intellectual insight around body oppression doesn’t necessarily lead to emotional change
  • Size acceptance as a grief process; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance
  • Part of size acceptance is accepting that rampant size discrimination exists.
  • Shifting anger at the self to anger at the world’s fatphobia
  • The overlap between how fatness and queerness gets conceptualized
  • The narrative that sexual orientation can be changed, or is indicative of emotional problems is similar to the discourse around fat bodies
  • Disordered eating of all kinds isn’t always visible
  • How under-eating always gets privileged 
  • Body hatred messages being passed down from generation to generation
  • How doctors get stumped when you ask them to explain the science of how exactly weight loss will help your health

Links & Resources: 

Jeanne Courtney’s website

Size Acceptance as a Grief Process