At New Year, we are pushed towards attractive discounts on gym memberships, and there is a common discussion in society about how much we have eaten over the holiday period, and how much weight we may have gained. Before summer begins, we are told to get “bikini ready” (whatever the hell this means), and we are forced images in magazines of scantily clan celebrities in all shapes and sizes that are constantly criticised for being too big or too small.
Over time, we have created a society that subconsciously put so much emphasis on weight, shape and size, rather than the importance of each individuals’ health and well-being. This is diet culture.
Nobody should be made to feel like their weight or their size is more important than their health and happiness. Our generation in particular has become obsessed with our bodies and how we look, especially in comparison to others. Of course, social media plays a huge part in this. We are driven by the likes, shares and follows on social media, and subconsciously use this as a measure of worthiness. Everywhere we go and every type of media we consume is pushing an “ideal” that is largely un-achievable or unhealthy for the majority of the population.
And the sad truth is we are all guilty of being sucked into this false reality. We’ve all become fascinated by fad diets and exercise routines, letting a number on a label define how happy we are in ourselves rather than listening to what our body wants and needs. It’s easier for us to try and fit in with everyone else and what we are “supposed” to look like, because we are conditioned to believe that skinny equals happy and healthy.
I truly believe being accepting of your body and listening to it is the key to self-confidence and happiness. If you can nurture the body you have, and love it unconditionally, and thank it for all that it does for you, then you are already one step closer to feeling happy in who you are.
I realise that I could rant on all day about diet culture and the damage that it does in our society, but I’m sure that wouldn’t be a very exciting read. So instead, I’ve summarised a few things that are fundamentally wrong with diet culture and how we can all learn a little more about body positivity.
Diet culture does not value all body types
This may come as a surprise to you, but not all healthy bodies are those that are slim and slender. Healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes, including plus size. There is not just one body type that is the healthiest. There is not one body type that is better than another. There is so much diversity in what defines healthy and it varies from person to person. My ideal weight as a 5 foot 1 naturally slim woman will be totally different to a taller woman with a broader frame. But that doesn’t make her size any unhealthier or unattractive than mine.
Our bodies are so much more than our weight or our shape or our size. They help to keep us alive and keep us going every single day. Our bodies are our support. They enable us to do and feel and to experience feelings. Our bodies help us to do things we wouldn’t be able to do without them.
Diet culture is damaging how we view ourselves
I’ve mentioned before the effect that social media is having on our self esteem. It’s something that is being more openly talked about and something I think we are all becoming a lot more aware of. Diet culture is working to make us more and more insecure in our bodies and is reinforcing those messages that there is only one shape and size that is desirable. The bodies that we see online, on TV, in magazines are largely unattainable. Those bodies will work for some, and I am no way bashing anyone who is naturally tall and slender and fits that profile, but it’s not universal.
Your body should not be made to look like someone else. Your body is yours and it is yours only. Embrace and celebrate the things that make you, you. Be your own body goals and work towards a better you without the pressure.
Diet culture assists and enables body shaming
Society has a cruel way of body shaming individuals for the way they look. It doesn’t just happen to someone who is bigger that the “ideal”; it can also happen to those who are smaller than average. Society does not discriminate who it aims its comments at, but it is always about their body. Who you are as a person, your values, what you believe in, none of that matters as both diet culture and body shaming focus solely on the exterior.
I’m not sure entirely what the aim of this post was, but I just felt like I had a lot to say on the topic. How about we all just try loving ourselves a little bit more for who we are, and stop trying to emulate this “perfect figure” that is forced upon us?