Linda Bacon, PhD

inspiring a global transformation to a more just world,
where all bodies are valued,
respected,
and supported in compassionate self-care

Sample Topics

Linda specializes in customizing motivational and educational talks for YOUR needs.

She speaks in a wide variety of environments, tailoring her content and presentation to best reach the differing needs of individuals, corporate, and academic audiences. Click on topics below to see sample descriptions of talks she has delivered.

For General Audiences

Dr. Linda Bacon, a researcher and thought leader in the Health at Every Size movement, debunks traditionally held myths about the relationships between weight, health, and eating, easing concerns that dieting or controlling your eating are necessary or valuable for a healthy or desirable body and arming you with the knowledge, resources and confidence to combat weight myths and stigma and regain a trusting relationship with your body. This presentation supports individuals struggling with their own weight concerns as well as health care practitioners working to implement these ideas in practice.

Weight has increased over the last decades. Yet, despite public health warnings about the threat obesity poses, people are living longer than ever before and getting disease later in life. Weight loss diets, exercise programs, surgical techniques, and pharmaceuticals have proliferated. But not only are we not getting thinner, only a tiny percentage of people maintain weight loss over the long run, regardless of method used. Most people struggle with their weight, whether they believe they’re too fat or fear becoming fat. Meanwhile, eating disorders and discrimination against heavier people are at an all-time high. In this provocative seminar, Dr. Bacon debunks the obesity myths, explains the fall-out of a health agenda based on the concept that thinness is the goal and that one’s weight is simply a matter of personal choices, and offers an alternative path to better health and well-being for people of all sizes.

Knowing how to tune into your body when it comes to eating is the key to developing a peaceful and nourishing relationship with food. This workshop supports participants in becoming in charge of eating, rather than trying to control their appetite. Participants will learn skills to become more attuned eaters, using internal cues of hunger and satiation to guide them in deciding when, what and how much to eat. They’ll also learn the skills to understand and manage the drive behind “emotional eating”. We’ll then expand the skills of attunement to explore strategies for self-compassion and self-care beyond eating, exploring topics such as realistic fitness and active embodiment, managing stress, and joyful living.

This seminar is intended to arm participants with the knowledge, resources and confidence to combat the weight myths and encourage Health at Every Size (HAES), turning ignorance and/or hostility into teachable moments. It will help participants identify the important issues and craft HAES concepts into clear and compelling messages.

Drawing on her personal experience and observations of internalized oppression and thin privilege, Linda Bacon identifies stumbling blocks to fat acceptance and strategies for personal empowerment and effecting change in others.

Conforming to expectations of what it means to be a man or a woman provides privileges, such as better jobs, greater social approval, and more. Living outside of gender expectations can mean bullying, discrimination, social rejection and worse. This cultural power is further complicated by intersections with other identities, such as race, sexual orientation, class, age, or dis/ability status. Yet gender is socially constructed, not a fact of nature. Few of us feel completely comfortable in the binary boxes of “man” and “woman” all of the time and in all ways. Most people, for example, have at least twinges if not a constant feeling of not measuring up to gendered beauty standards. Some transgress gender norms in big ways, like transitioning to a gender different from that assigned at birth. For others, transgression can be more modest, like the stay-at-home dad or the woman who changes the oil in her car.

Body image concerns – and the eating disorders they spawn – are most commonly framed as a struggle in the chasm between our perception of our own bodies and idealized, gendered, portrayals. But what happens when we apply broader perspective, not just challenging cultural standards for what an acceptable gendered body looks like, but what it means to be a woman or a man?

Join us for what’s sure to be a riveting talk as Linda Bacon shares stories and lessons learned from her own gender journey and the value that comes from supporting all people in the full expression of self, beyond the gender binary.

If you’ve ever…

• tried to talk about size acceptance and met resistance …

• wanted to challenge body-bashing, fat-phobic or just plain ignorant comments on weight but struggled getting your message across …

• wished you could project confidence and authority as an advocate for size acceptance …

this workshop is for you!

In this full-day, participatory workshop, you will master techniques for reaching diverse audiences with the message of size acceptance. An accomplished speaker, author and advocate for size acceptance, Linda will help you:

• Speak with both authority and compassion as you make the case for a peaceful end to the Body Wars.

• Evaluate your audience and tailor persuasive messages that respond to their motivations and vulnerabilities.

• Confidently challenge deeply-held (and culturally reinforced) assumptions in non-threatening ways.

• Discern when to appeal emotionally, when to use intellectual arguments, and how to effectively do both.

Whether at a dinner table or in a TV interview, picture yourself speaking calmly, confidently and persuasively when fat-bashing or dieting talk ensues. No matter your experience, you will leave this empowering, one-of-a-kind event with enhanced reasoning and response skills valuable in any forum.

This unique workshop will include demonstrations, original conference materials and small-group exercises to support your learning. Groups will be tailored to your needs and interests based on a pre-workshop placement survey. Whether you’re already an experienced leader in the size acceptance movement, someone looking to change the direction of water cooler conversations, or somewhere in between, you’ll get the tools, support and inspiration to take your message further.

For Professionals

Amidst the backdrop of a national obsession with weight loss, it is not surprising weight has become a central concern in health practice and a source of anxiety for many clients and families. As a health care provider, you’ve been well-schooled in weight concerns. You know the conventional ideas about using BMI for diagnosis, recommending dietary monitoring and control, and the value of weight loss in treating and preventing disease. But are you feeling confident that the status quo response to weight concerns is effective? Perhaps you’re noticing, despite all the attention to weight, patients aren’t getting thinner, and you’re aware of the well-established finding that only a small percentage of people maintain weight loss over the long run. Maybe you’ve noticed the negative consequences, with patients becoming increasingly preoccupied with food and weight, and disordered eating behaviors on the rise.

How do we reconcile these challenges? How can we address weight, among patients of all sizes, in ways that are effective, compassionate, evidence-based, and, most importantly, do no harm?

In this provocative workshop, Dr. Bacon challenges the assumptions of a health agenda based on thinness as a goal and dietary control as the answer. With abundant research and clinical wisdom, she explains an evidence-based alternative path for health professionals to address weight more effectively and empower patients – of all sizes - to live healthier lives.

Dr. Linda Bacon opens this workshop with a short introduction to HAES practice, debunking traditionally held myths about the relationship between weight and health, and develops this to show participants how to work with people to ease their discomfort around eating, weight and health issues. This intro will be framed to be suitable for HAES newcomers and narrated as a model for engagement to be used by those already HAES-informed. The workshop illustrates how bringing social determinants of health into the clinical picture enables us to support people in moving from self-blame to self-care. Integrating data on social factors gives a more accurate evidence base and enables us to be more effective as we engage with clients in ways that promote resilience, trust and a sense of coherence. Whether you’re a clinician helping people navigate concerns with body image, eating disorders and weight stigma and/or a critical thinker already sensitized to social justice, this workshop will demonstrate how to effectively connect the personal and the political in your practice. (Originally developed and co-conducted with Dr. Lucy Aphramor)

There is tremendous resistance to challenging conventional dogma about nutrition, eating habits and weight. Consider advocacy for size acceptance, which is a very threatening message for individuals who believe a thinner body is their ticket to acceptance, happiness and health, and for many health professionals who have been trained to believe that weight loss heals or protects against many of the maladies they’re entrusted to treat. How can we maintain the integrity of our message, be effective advocates, AND look after ourselves when we are continually on the receiving end of resistance? Speaking from personal experience and highlighting connection with Health at Every Size theory, Dr. Bacon will reflect on how she has learned to shift her own approach to engaging people’s fears, as well as practical and creative strategies for nurturing resilience, both for herself and for her audiences.

Conventional care for type 2 diabetes has focused on weight management. This approach has poor overall outcomes and ignores the people with type 2 diabetes who are already lean. Epidemiological and clinical research shows that switching the focus to changing health behaviors and improving body esteem offers an inclusive, harm-free alternative. This approach avoids the metabolic dysregulation and behavioral fallout of cognitive restraint. Refocusing on health and moving away from the stigmatization of weight also enables us to integrate clinically meaningful data about social determinants, stigma and stress into our work with clients. In this provocative seminar, Dr. Bacon debunks the diet myths, explains the fall-out of a health agenda based on the concept that thinness is the goal and dieting is an effective way to achieve it, and offers a way forward for more effective and compassionate diabetes care.

I’m proud of the depth of knowledge I’ve accumulated over the years, my understanding of the academic and community discourse related to HAES, and my ability to cite supporting data. After years of living my own personal journey with Health at Every Size, facilitating HAES awareness in others, bringing HAES into the public domain, and teaching professionals strategies for incorporating HAES into their work, I’ve learned an important lesson: theory and data by themselves don’t facilitate change.

Instead, I’ve learned that knowledge co-creation is key to understanding information, personal transformation, and being able to facilitate change in others, and that’s what you’ll get from this weekend devoted to transformation and community-building. I have got tons of info to share with you on classic HAES topics like body acceptance, compassion, attuned eating, and active living, all integrated into a social justice model, and that will come out during the course of the weekend. But more important than the “facts,” or specific topics we cover, know that you will be participating in a learning community with peers who are passionate about making a difference in the world, and that as a facilitator I will be using this energy. Small-group explorations will build on ideas, personal experiences and vulnerabilities, and infuse back into large-group work. I’ve got exercises and discussion points to engage you, body and soul, and am committed to creating a safe background to foster challenge and transformation.

Expect magic to occur as we open ourselves to engagement. You’ll leave feeling more empowered to live and share the positive messages of self-care and respect embodied in HAES principles. You’ll also have new perspectives on what HAES offers as a movement to advance social change.

Obesity, viewed as a visible result of a food system gone wrong, is an easy rallying call for people committed to food justice. However, no matter how often and authoritatively we trumpet fears about obesity, scientific research shows that common assumptions just don’t hold up to the evidence. Most people, whether they’re chubby or slender, vegan or omnivore, local whole food aficionados or conventional eaters, struggle with their weight. This presentation will equip you with the real facts about weight and food, supporting you in appreciating whatever body you’ve got and making enjoyable food choices to support it. It will also help activists transform their platform from demonizing fat to advocating for good food directly.

Nutrition is conventionally taught through rules of what to eat and what to avoid, with the goal of maintaining a certain weight.

Giving people rules to follow, and a goal weight to achieve, puts them out of touch with hunger and fullness and leads to poor body confidence. Nutritional information is best delivered in the context of how the food impacts our bodies, helping people learn to figure out what they are hungry for, and the connections between what they eat, or don’t eat, and how they feel. People who learn to listen to their bodies are more likely to select a nutritious overall diet than those who do not develop this skill because they eat according to rules or in response to restriction.

In this provocative seminar, Bacon teaches the strategies that really work.

The very nature of the topic of bravery means that I can’t do a safe talk. I would undermine myself to talk theoretically about how valuable it is to be brave, and not exhibit the very traits I establish.

Today, I’m going to ask you to join me in establishing and entering into a brave space. We’ve got an incredible opportunity in our time together. We’re in a room with people who are committed to social change, to self-discovery, to doing good in the world. I want to run an experiment on bravery – I’m modeling it now as I stand in front of you, free from Powerpoint armor, outside of my comfort zone, with all my fears of public speaking and what might come up unscripted. My hope is that we can be reflective about the experience and discuss what works and what doesn’t, and we can integrate the perspective of what it’s like for me to do it, and for you to bear witness, and we can see if we can come up with some conclusions about what can be learned about bravery from authentic presence.

How can we support clients in more comfortably inhabiting and appreciating their bodies? Answering this question is grounded in the understanding that we experience our bodies in relation to our social location – that is, where we are socially positioned according to size, ethnicity, class, gender, age, sexuality, ability and more. Social factors contribute to significant bodily discontent; structures of privilege and oppression limit access to the privileges associated with more “valued” bodies.

In this provocative seminar, Bacon identifies the social roots of feelings of bodily discontent, highlighting the experiences of those who occupy marginalized social locations. She discusses structural solutions as well as personal strategies for developing resilience, such as increasing self-compassion, self-acceptance, and self-care (including addressing conventional lifestyle factors such as eating and activity) in a society in which body shame is normative and oppressions common.