The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is check my social media. I have a scroll through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and maybe even my LinkedIn page. On each of these days I wake up to new posts about dieting, exercise, or some sort of product being sold to enhance not only my health, but my appearance. I see images of celebrities or social media models posed in bikinis or fancy sportswear whilst holding a packet of Fit Tea or some new trendy protein shake. These women look remarkable. Their bodies are what mainstream society dreams of and their confidence radiates through the small screen of my mobile phone. I feel enticed to spend the high dollar cost on the products they are advertising, because who wouldn’t want the body of their dreams and the confidence to match?
This is Diet Culture; A 20 billion dollar industry designed to prey on the insecure and vulnerable by luring them into an arguably unhealthy and obsessive lifestyle. The industry sells things such as low calorie diet plans, diet supplements, waist trainers/corsets, laxative teas, protein powders and much more. All of these things on the market are meant to make you ‘look’ the way you feel you should by society’s standards. That’s not all, though. Diet culture puts a number on you. You’re now defined by the measurement of your waist, the number of pounds on the scale, and the sizes ‘small’, ‘medium’, and ‘large’ – and if you should ever be so unlucky to be of average size in the USA, you will be the primary focus and target of the Diet Culture industry. In society today, women aren’t allowed to be anything other than perfect without scrutiny.
Consumers are taught that certain foods posses morals – that food over x-amount of calories are devilish and fatal. We are told to join ‘weight loss’ groups such as Weight Watchers and Slimming World to hold ourselves accountable for our alleged ‘bad eating habits’. We are taught to count everything on a nutrition label and that intuitively eating, is overeating. These big companies that make millions annually preach about the “healthy lifestyles” they’re promoting – but nothing of balance and contentment; because let’s face it, we can all look better in the mirror and if we believe otherwise, then we are condemned non-ambitious, lazy failures.
Meals out with friends and family are now anxiety filled events, instead of enjoyable events – the only thing you’ll be focused on are the macros in the food in front of you, whether or not you’ll be able to hit the targeted steps on the expensive FitBit you wear (regardless of how obviously bulky and annoying it is), and how you’ll be able to over-compensate for any sugary drinks/desserts you may indulge in.
This is all worth it though, isn’t it? How is this supposed to feel right?
We live in a society that glamorizes disordered eating and exercising for unachievable appearances advertised by primarily photo-shopped women. We have all fallen into the trap of Diet Culture at some point in our lives – male or female. Fighting the industry might seem like a losing battle but spreading positive advocacy for self-acceptance will always remain an essential. No one should be made to feel like the skin they are in, is simply not enough – or too much. No matter your size, gender, race – you have to love and embrace yourself, no matter where you are at in your journey to bettering yourself. We shouldn’t allow society to rate our greatness by our reflections in the mirror or weight on the scale. We are much more than that. Take a stand against Diet Culture and love yourselves today. We are all worth it.
Words by Brianna Humes