In this current age of social media, where nearly everything can (and is) documented online, avoiding weight-loss advertisements, “thinspo” or “fitspo” accounts and advocates, and companies that claim to have a “solution” to weight gain is purely impossible. I am sick of the mindset that women, girls, men, boys, and anyone outside or in between those binaries must feel the need to work out, lose weight, and be “healthy.” And I am sick of not talking about it.
Disclaimer: I am not trying to bash those who want to/enjoy exercising, eating healthy, etc. Wanting to exercise and eat fruits and veggies is fine and dandy. I just think it’s important to acknowledge the implications and subliminal social messages that exist beyond these acts. I do not condemn going to the gym, drinking smoothies, and the like. I condemn the obsessive, restrictive thoughts and behavior that continue to poison the minds of individuals around the world due to the ways in which our society has socially constructed health.
Here’s a list of diet culture-related thoughts that I feel strongly about and everyone should strongly consider:
- “Health” can be defined in numerous ways depending on the individual/group of individuals. “Health” does not equate thin, able-bodied, toned muscles, or eating smoothies for lunch.
- Physical “health” or being physically “fit” does not equate mental health and/or mental wellbeing. For example, an individual may exercise and diet until they are lean but that will not necessarily guarantee happiness and mental wellness.
- Diets exist for their participants to fail. “Yo-yo dieting,” or trying diet after diet in hopes of achieving results, actually does not do anything beneficial for our bodies. Essentially, most diets set us up for failure, which results in a new cycle of searching for a solution, searching for a “perfect” body.
- The “perfect body” is a social construct. Throughout history our society has constructed what it means to have a “perfect body” which is typically constructed through a euro-centric, hegemonic, heteronormative, and patriarchal perspective. (i.e. thin, white, sexualized women that are plastered all over advertisements.)
- Body positivity should not exclude individuals who do not fit the “typical’ (socially constructed) body type. Body positivity should be inclusive in race, gender, ability, ethnicity, and body type.
- Certain types of food are not inherently “bad.” We place these ideas upon certain foods, primarily on foods like pizza, candy/sweets, and carbs.
- Gaining weight is not the end of the world. Diet culture has taught us that weight gain is a detriment to our worth as individuals. Bodies fluctuate, they are not stagnant.
These are only a handful of the things I have to say regarding diet culture and body positivity. This is a topic that has greatly interested me recently, so I hope to write more (coherent) pieces about it in the future.
All in all, I’m saying that approaching body politics, such as weight-loss, self-esteem and self-image, and body positivity, with a more positive and inclusive perspective will greatly benefit us, not only on the individual level, but on the societal level as well.
Here are some great articles/videos about diet culture: