If you have been following what I write for a while, you will have seen that I do not defend diets (and by ‘diet’ here I mean one that is done with the aim of losing weight or changing your body, I am not talking about those that are medically necessary). And I don’t defend them because they simply don’t work. And I’m not saying it, the studies are responsible for confirming that, in the long term, they do not work for the vast majority of people.
But the industry has already realized this. And you’ve seen that the word ‘diet’ is frowned upon, so all you’re proposing is a disguise. I have said it on other occasions, but eating clean, detoxing, eating healthy … ends up being another type of diet, since we end up restricting and following the diet cycle.
What is diet culture based on?
We live surrounded by diet culture. And today I want to share my vision because day by day I see that it is more covert, but that does not mean it stops being latent. My view of diet culture is that we live in a culture with a set of beliefs showing that being slim is valuable, desirable, and means being healthy. It is also when people are reinforced for eating ‘healthy’ because they are thin when they are made comments about how ‘good’ they are because they have lost weight. And although now you think: No no, I already know that not all thin people are healthy. Surely it is more difficult to dismantle the belief that a person with a higher weight or obese, is healthy. And yes, there are great people with an impeccable health.
The diet culture controls our bodies with restrictions and/or excessive exercise. He promises you that when you are thinner, you will achieve what you do not have: to be happier, more loved, a person with more opportunities … Lie. I have not yet met anyone who after dieting is happier. And you will tell me, I do! That is the happiness of having achieved a goal (lose a few kilos), which lasts a short moment. It is not pure happiness at all.
One person I follow a lot is Christy Harrison. Her podcasts are gold, and she is an anti-diet dietitian, trained in Intuitive Eating that deals a lot about obesity stigma and diet culture. Its definition is as follows:
«Diet culture is a belief system that:
- Reward thinness
- Promotes weight loss as a means of reaching a higher state
- It focuses on different ways of eating, praising those ways of eating in which you are very attentive to what you choose, but far from what you need or pleasure
- It oppresses people who do not fit the so-called ‘health’ image and seriously harms women, trans people, people with larger bodies, people of color, and people with disabilities, damaging both their mental and physical health.
Where is it present?
It is present everywhere. In advertisements, in gyms, at work, or in restaurants. But above all, it is in day-to-day conversations. Some examples of this:
- If I ate everything you eat, it would put everything in my belly. How lucky you are!
- The girl is plump, eh? (addressing a baby)
- A few years ago I did a dance when I was thinking XX kilos less. If I lost weight, I would dance again.
- Watch how he eats and doesn’t get fat
- If she were slimmer, she wouldn’t have a problem finding a partner.
- I don’t know how you dare to wear that skirt with your legs.
Perhaps these phrases seem normal to you, or even you have said them, but they seem normal to us because we hear them every day, because we are already born with this type of belief and vision of what a thin person is. And it is that every day, unconsciously, the focus is on the body, on ‘there is something to fix because you are not well’.
In addition, the culture of the diet is almost in our genes, because we have lived it from a very young age. From comments from our parents, family members, or people around us, making comments about our bodies, also in adolescence, or when we gain a little more weight because we are developing. Those comments are part of this system.
Diets and women
With this section, I do not want to exclude men. I know that more and more, because of the culture in which we live, they live more pressured to fit into the bodies of movie men, this is not new. And the numbers of disorders in men continue to rise.
Even so, today I want to focus on women, which is also in March, and we are all going to become a little more aware of how serious this problem is for women and how it affects us.
We are told to be authentic, but we are being sold an idea of perfection that does not exist. On the other hand, we are told to be free, but we are insulted if we do not shave our armpits; We are sold that with a few touch-ups or makeup we are better, but if someone fixes ‘a lot’ they are also criticized. They were? Instead of criticizing ourselves, we should question the social and cultural mechanisms that make us constantly feel pressured to act or see ourselves in a certain way, always with guilt on our shoulders.
And yes, all these messages are very present in women: television programs in which they change your look to be better or end up doing touch-ups to change their appearance. Once, the focus is on the image and the body.
What to do to escape the diet culture?
The first thing of all is to become aware. Yes, be aware of what you say and what you hear. If you put on the “anti-diet” glasses, I’m sure you will start to detect where it is visible (it will not be difficult to detect it).
On the other hand, start with yourself: try to get away from focusing on your body, on changing something because it is not right. Remember: there is nothing to fix. Stop criticizing and criticizing the bodies of others.
There is a lot of talk about cleaning up on social media, it starts here. Do not follow those profiles that generate envy, confusion, or frustration. Stay away from it.
Stop reading everything that sounds like restriction, promises of happiness, and different bodies. You can start reading Christy Harrison or some books like The Myth of Beauty, by Naomi Wolf; Fat is a Feminist Issue, by Susie Orbach or searches for ‘antidiet’ or ‘diet’ in your networks so that you can see the movement there is to fight for no diet, which, deep down, is the fight for freedom.
Now it’s your turn, I’d love to hear what your impressions are on diet culture. Were you aware? Has it affected you at some point in your life?