The Many Downfalls of Diet Culture
I want to start this by saying there is a distinct difference between trying to eat healthy and dieting. Eating healthy is trying to maximize your body’s potential by eating foods that will be of the greatest nutritional value, whereas dieting is seen as either trying to cut back on a certain food group (carbohydrates is a common one) or trying to cut back on general caloric intake.
Our media heavily pushes dieting, whether it be through the weight loss teas seen constantly on Instagram or the newest juice cleanse. These diets are never truly for the purpose of health, and instead they are marketed as a way to loose weight. Diets further push the cultural notion that one needs to be skinny in order to be beautiful and that thinness equates to health. This is completely false. We all have completely different body types, and that is actually what makes us beautiful. People are born thin, thick, freckled, tall, short, hairy, and sometimes with disabilities. People can have cellulite, tummy rolls, acne, excema, stretch marks, vitigo, or scars and STILL be beautiful despite being underrepresented in the media. Diet culture attempts to make everyone fit a mold that only under 5% of the populations naturally fits (“11 Facts About Body Image”). Our beauty can be found in our diversity, which is something that modern society desperately needs to learn.
Calories are not the devil. Humans need to get a certain amount of energy (the exact number varies depending on your body type and the amount of excercise you do) from food each day in order to function. I am constantly surrounded by people (mostly women and girls) saying how they need to “cut back on carbs” in order to get their “bikini body”. I’m not trying to exclude myself from this; I went through a period where I tried to avoid carbs like they were some sort of deadly insect. I can say, from firsthand experience, that people need carbohydrates in order to function at an optimal state. Without carbohydrates, I felt too weak to do schoolwork and I frequently got very close to passing out in hot yoga. Your health is infinitely more important than a thigh gap.
I know how hard it is to dispel diet culture; it is all around us. It is important to try and notice when you see diet culture in your own life, whether it be through media or other people, and try to question and fight it. It helps to try and see your body as a canvas and your “imperfection” as art. Your painting looks different from any other, and that is a wonderful thing. Try to eat what makes you feel good. If a salad is what will make you feel best, go for it, but you also don’t need to deprive yourself of the occasional ice cream cone. I am writing this as someone who is still learning to love her body. I’ve worked really hard to get to where I am, but I still am not at full acceptance with myself. Loving each part of your body is sometimes that takes a very long time. Be patient with yourself. I believe in you.
“11 Facts About Body Image.” DoSomething.org , www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-body-image.
10/3/2018 10:13:19 pm
I just found this page from the link in ur bio and I’m SO GLAD I did! It makes me so happy to see someone my age like you talking about these issue from our perspective. What you’re doing is incredible <3
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