Down the Rabbit Hole

This post features the topic taken up by Jacqui Gingras and Charlotte Cooper in the latest issue of the Journal of Critical Dietetics. In this opinion piece (Pages 2-5) the authors outline the reasons why a trademark causes the Health at Every Size movement to be curtailed. Charlotte has also posted briefly on her blog, Obesity Timebomb about the same topic. The authors invite you to share how you want the HAES movement to move from today onward.  Is there a problem with trademarking HAES?

One response to “Down the Rabbit Hole”

  1. Kudos to Charlotte and Jacqui for identifying excellent arguments to oppose copyright. They speak for my perspective, and were I alone on this issue, I’d also take a strong stand against copyright, for the reasons they presented. That said, I also respect that many people work within the system to a greater extent than I do, and find legal protection valuable to protect the integrity of the HAES principles. Certainly, there has been much cooptation of the term, which leads to misunderstanding and misrepresentation of its principles. Having agreed-upon tenets and copyright protection can allow the term to maintain its integrity. And while there is certainly the potential for all of the difficulties suggested in the article to occur, as far as I’m aware, the reality is that none has as yet occurred; instead the copyright protection has only been invoked in egregious cases where there is shared perspective within the community (e.g., using HAES to sell a calorie restriction, weight loss diet) – and it has been invoked in such a way as to invite discussion and education, without legal action.

    If our world were more sensitive and compassionate on weight concerns, I would enjoy lawlessness and wouldn’t see value in copyright or even a professional organization. But we don’t live in that world and I admire ASDAH for its ability to take its power within the system, without abusing it. I’ve also noticed shifts in what gets described as HAES in the literature, so again while I agree with Charlotte and Jacqui on the dangers of a static definition that closes down dialogue I don’t see this happening. To repeat, ASDAH appears only to be interested in protecting against the more egregious and agreed upon violations, not preventing change or dialogue as the movement and term continue to evolve. Indeed, ASDAH encourages that dialogue and ongoing growth of HAES theory and practice.

    In sum, as an individual I wouldn’t have opted for copyrighting the term. Yet I respect the diversity of our movement and am confident that a community of people feels otherwise, has chosen copyright as appropriate for the time being, remains open to discussion on the issue, and is managing it respectfully.

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