Diet culture is a system that sells a false idea. The idea is that you must always be following a plan to get your body to fit into the current ideal. As time goes on, the plans and rules change, but the ideal body tends to stay relatively similar. You know it well; it’s mostly slim, flat-bellied, smooth, toned, hairless on the body, but lots of hair on the head– and probably young, white and over 5ft8.
When you think about it, it’s just absolutely despicable that we have to follow this way of thinking, and not allow for beauty to be found elsewhere other than that one type of body. It’s really oppression, not only of all peoples who don’t fit that figure but for everyone else who wants to have the freedom to enjoy their lives as they are, enjoying the wondrous uniqueness of themselves and of the people around them.
You’re probably influenced by diet culture because it’s all around you. The only way to free yourself, and at the same time, dismantle the system is to be aware of how it’s operating each and every day, on every level as you go about your life, and make sure you don’t engage with it and call it out when you see it.
Where is diet culture found?
It’s in the way people talk.
“Hey, how are you? You look great, have you lost weight?!”
“Oh I know, I know, I shouldn’t, but I’ll start my diet on Monday!”
“I know I’m being bad, but I’ll be good this week.”
“I’ll make up for it later; I’ll have to go for an extra long run to burn these calories. After all, it’s a calorie deficit we need!”
“Urgh, I feel so fat.”
It’s on the packaging of the food in the supermarkets
Or it’s straight from a diet company but found its way to your supermarket where it shoves syns and points in your face.
It’s on programmes that advertise weight-loss but don’t focus on any other benefits like whole person wellbeing
Shed the fat fast
Fight the flab
Run to beat the bulge
It’s in the media – on TV, in movies, and on magazine covers, and on social media too
Constantly having people who are able-bodied, white, thin, tall or healthy on TV and magazines
Airbrushing bodies to get rid of natural skin details; like wrinkles, cellulite or dappled colours, or body hair
Social media culture promoting Botox, fillers, teeth whitening, hair straightening etc.
Seeing a limited representation of people of all races and all body types and sizes
Showing non-disabled bodies in lead roles, or on magazine covers
It’s in the way you speak with yourself
“I need to lose weight to be attractive or accepted”
“I’m too fat for that opportunity”
“I can’t get what I want because I don’t look the way I want to yet”
“I’ll be happier when I’m thinner”
“I wish I looked like them”
“I’m pathetic, why can’t I stick to my diet? What’s wrong with me?”
It’s seems in many ways that we are living in the future, but we have really lost sight of what’s important in our lives. As we live more and more isolated from a close knit community around us, we become more fearful of judgement as we all turn into little islands floating around desperate not to be judged by everyone else who has to be an individual. This just allows diet culture to thrive on our insecurities and our natural human instinct to want to fit in.
Finding a friendly group of people is going to be really important for you to move away from toxic diet culture, because there’s a good chance that the many people around you don’t even know they are in it, and trying to show them makes you feel like the odd one out.
I’m not a huge fan of social media (I mean, I’m on it a lot, and that’s how I know I don’t like it!) and if you’re on it, then at least try to follow people that actually look like you. It’s great to see people who look similar to you who are living their lives boldly and confidently, and it makes you realize that there really isn’t anything stopping you from living that life apart from what you say to yourself.
And that’s where your daily work comes in. Don’t let diet culture have its way with your precious thoughts, beliefs and where your energy goes!
I’ll be sharing a post very soon on how you can manage this, but in the meantime, do check out my workshops to join in on one because they will all help you get started on finding a happier balance with food!
Until next time,