A number of revelations about the writer and speaker Lindo Bacon’s treatment of some fat and Black activists and thinkers associated with the Health at Every Size (HAES) community have come to light in recent weeks.
Lindo is best known as the author of Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight, a thin, white, genderqueer dietician, author, professor, and speaker. Anyone involved in the worlds of body positivity and fat politics is familiar with their name.
Mikey Mercedes was the first person to publicly share her story. Mikey is a young, Black, fat, and rising activist, Ph.D. student, and Brown.
Her Patreon essay describes what happened when Lindo approached her about possibly collaborating on a rewrite of Lindo’s HAES book. The story progresses from fairly innocuous to perplexing to stomach-churning. I won’t go into detail here, but you can read the essay if you want.
The essay contains a Zoom transcript of a call between the two of them that is quite damning for Lindo. The most shocking revelation in this transcript is Lindo’s complete and utter failure to understand the fundamental mechanics of power, as well as the specific power dynamics between them and Mikey.
Mikey clearly did not like being intellectually challenged by Lindo, who could easily afford to listen and be receptive to some feedback about the HAES paradigm.
Lindo’s subtle manipulation is obvious to anyone with experience in abuse dynamics or toxic workplaces—for example, attempting to withdraw the offer of collaboration in order to get Mikey to then capitulate to Lindo’s demand for greater control.
Furthermore, for someone who appears to be well-versed in fat politics and trans issues, I was taken aback when Lindo stated that white people should not be expected to step back to make room for Black people in social justice movements.
That is not how whiteness and white supremacy are dismantled. While it is true that anyone can set up a platform and grab a virtual megaphone these days, it is simply not the case that power can be easily and equally distributed among all who show up.
Lindo is well aware that power is bestowed upon those with the most valuable bodies in society, yet they acted with extraordinary obtuseness with Mikey on this matter.
Following Mikey’s essay, a number of other fat activism and HAES writers and activists came forward with their own accounts of Lindo behaving inappropriately to downright manipulatively. Lindley Ashline published her essay here and then compiled a list of other, similar accounts, which you can read here.
I’m not a clinician and don’t consider myself a member of the Health At Every Size community; I’m not a member of ASDAH (though that may change soon) and don’t participate in any online HAES groups.
I have, however, cited Lindo’s work and used it in my writing and diet-recovery coaching practice. I have two of Lindo’s three books, which I purchased during my own recovery from disordered eating.
Before I read them, my coach informed me that they were flawed; some fatphobia remained baked into their pages, and the concept of “health” as an obligation fat people are expected to strive for was not adequately challenged.
However, there was useful information there that greatly aided me in healing my relationship with food and my body.
Although I’d been following Mikey on Twitter for a while, Lindo’s celebrity, credibility, and whiteness positioned them as someone I sympathized with. In the hours and days following my reading of Mikey’s essay, I realized how my own whiteness and identification with power influenced my reading of it.
I initially thought Mikey’s decision to print a Zoom transcript of a call without Lindo’s permission was unethical. My mind kept wanting to jump in with but, but, but—wanting to give Lindo the benefit of the doubt and wanting Mikey to have misunderstood something or gotten the short end of the stick in her interactions with Lindo.
However, by the halfway point of Mikey’s piece, it was clear: Lindo’s words and actions were shockingly obtuse, invested in consolidating their own image and power, and disappointingly manipulative.
I saw Mikey’s decision to print the transcript as an act of a whistleblower working on behalf of a beloved community, informing people that the luminary that is Lindo Bacon was far more invested in their own career and brand than in the well-being of a much younger activist who was setting boundaries around how she was treated in a professional setting.
The fact that Lindo appears to have a pattern of using their power against people who have far less power than Lindo is the most vexing. And, of course, it’s a pattern of harm that has been kept under wraps for so long due to Lindo’s prominence in HAES circles.
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