My Thoughts On Diet Culture

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.

Diet culture graphic with gym wear, trainers, water bottle and healthy foods in image

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?

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  1. polley93 says

    This post is absolutely true. Instagram can be absolute poison to setting up a visual of “perfect”. The perfect body. The perfect trip. The perfect pose. And most of it is staged. Fashion trends change every seven days in purpose so you’re always a step behind. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes and colors. This post validates everything I believe. Loved it!

  2. yorkshiremumof4 says

    I think people have to overcome this in their own minds and not care what people think – Thick skin is needed sometimes, I am a size 14 – I have been this size since I was about 16 years old and am now 29. I have always been the same shape and size. I am not overly confident but I just think – I don’t want to stop eating cake and I am happy. I wear what I want and if people have a problem they can look away. I will wear what I feel comfortable wearing – I am nearly 30 im not living to please others 🙂 Wow – that was a rant.. haha Great post. There is a funny lady on Instagram that just does comedy Instagram and I watched some of her stuff the other day and it was hilarious. She poses like the insta models and everything.

  3. The diary of Ellie says

    I feel like people care too much what others think which i know i do anyway and its something a lot of people have to deal with. I think the idea of dieting isn’t an issue when you’re doing it to just be more healthy in the foods you eat or because you want to lose weight for yourself, i think it becomes an issue when you’re dieting because you dont want people think you’re overweight which of course brings to issue of ‘diet culture’ x

  4. paddockfamily4 says

    My perspective on all of this changed when I had children. I struggled with anorexia as a teen. It wasn’t until I found myself growing to human beings that I learned to love my body- it was the one and only way I could take care of my unborn babies. And then when they were born I had to look at health, diet and weight so differently because I didn’t want my sons to have the same distorted views I grew up with. Thanks for sharing all of this- it’s so important that we all work towards being healthy but LOVE OURSELVES no matter what healthy looks like for us!

  5. M4nic Digression says

    Not to mention how it affect those with eating disorders, mental health problems.

    Great post.

    We must have been on a similar wavelength today as I wrote about my body confidence as an artist’s model. I have been many sizes because of medication and different levels of fitness, over the years but I found a different angle (through the eyes of artists) to view myself and I like it.

  6. Kaitlyn Isabel says

    love love love this!!!

    Everyone always talks about being XXkgs/lbs and as someone who is 6ft tall, if i were ever to get to a size like that I would be hospitalized!

    Diet culture is alive and well. Just recently I went to a wedding expo and there were “weight loss” and “diet” programs and products for sale. Yeah, every bride wants to look her best and I know I’m trying to get fitter and slimmer before my wedding day, but it definitely wont be with a fad diet, shake or tea.

  7. Hannah Victoria Gladwin says

    This quote: ‘ Society does not discriminate who it aims its comments at, but it is always about their body. ‘

    You are so right! There are so many diets claiming to be the ‘one that’ll work’ it’s just encouraging this yoyo-ing effect which is so unhealthy.

    Like you said, society seems to say it’s possible to look a wrong way – too big or too small – you have be perfect. Which is one of the reasons I feel bad about myself when I shouldn’t – your post really links in to my last post about feeling guilty for feeling bad about our bodies.

    Great post.

  8. pixieskies says

    This post is absolutely true!! I think your point about body types is so important, I hate the weird obsession with numbers when in reality one person’s healthy weight is very different to another person’s even just based on height. Interesting post 🙂


  9. Alessandra Esse says

    I can totally relate to this. Everything you write is so true. Unfortunately my feeling is that we (meaning society) still have a long way to go. But raising awareness is the first and one of the most important steps. Thank you for this post!

  10. isabellaroseevans says

    Such an interesting read – I think a lot of it is using positive wording as well. Stop referring to being more healthy as “dieting”. I think there’s a big difference between the two but the phrasing is often used interchangeably.

  11. Peanuts & Cacahuetes says

    Great post with a strong and powerful message! I’m glad I came across this post as I needed to hear this and eventually stop pressuring myself…
    I’m pretty happy in life but like you said, there is always something to remind you that thin and fit is the best and healthiest… so it stays at the back of your head all the time like a wisper reminding you that you HAVE TO get fit too.
    Thank you for sharing!


  12. educatinghayley says

    Totally agree! There is no perfect body and all this body shaming is probably cooked up by the people trying to sell exercise plans and diets!

  13. thisdreamsalive says

    I 100% agree with all of this. There’s so many trends too, like how early 2000s was “crack skinny”, and then waist training and thigh gaps, and now you have to be slim but also “thiccc” – our bodies aren’t clothes, we can’t just change it every season. People never said anything about my legs until thigh gaps became a thing and all of a sudden they were “goals”

  14. Maryam says

    Thank you so much for this post. A lot of people need to read this because so many are not comfortable in their own skin due to comparison. This is so true.

  15. A Wartime Life says

    Such a great post! I agree completely with the points you’ve mentioned and think the message your trying to get across is so amazing. I think it’s time we all focused on being happy and healthy within ourselves and not how other people might see us externally

  16. beckiewrites says

    Thank you so much for this refreshing morning read. As a person who has struggled with my weight in the past, it’s good to be reminded that all bodies are beautiful and have value. 🙂

  17. Rachelle Lewis says

    Love love love!! Everything you said is so true. I am guilty of feeling this way too. I hope we can find a way to change diet culture for young girls it is not healthy.

  18. Rachel says

    Over the years, I’ve come to realize that it’s not as important to look good as it is to feel good. I’m pretty average size and don’t think anyone would say I ought to lose weight, but I eat like absolute crap and I’m striving to change that through different ways of eating, not eating different things. For example, I’ll only eat when I’m hungry, eat slower and smaller portions and avoid foods that make me feel icky, but not abstain from anything I love because it’s bound to cause trouble down the line.

    Rachel ||

    • whatabigailsays says

      I totally agree. Making yourself more aware of what you are eating as how it helps to fuel you is a really important thing! I’ve never cut anything out intentionally, it’s just all about balance and moderation!

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