We need to talk about 'Diet Culture'

January is prime diet time. Traditionally, New Year’s resolutions are often centred around losing weight and becoming a slimmer version of ourselves.

Many brands who sell dieting products and regimes promote the myth that a thinner version of ourselves is a worthier version of ourselves. This simply is not true, AT ALL. This phenomenon is can be described as ‘diet culture’. For 2020, we say we need to cancel diet culture for good.

What is ‘diet culture’?

According to Naomi Ishisaka, from the Seattle Times, diet culture is “is a system of values and beliefs that permeate our society and instruct us that shrinking ourselves into smaller bodies will lead to better health outcomes”. Ishisaka then goes on to explain that diet culture brandishes certain foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’, guilting us into restricting our diets and how much we enjoy food. 

Diet culture has been named as the culprit for why still so many people suffer from poor body image and even eating disorders. Body positivity is now the counter culture to diet culture. According to VeryWellMind, body positivity “refers to the assertion that all people deserve to have a positive body image, regardless of how society and popular culture view ideal shape, size, and appearance”. The body-positive movement aims to dismantle the harmful messaging of diet culture across all intersections including, gender, sexuality, race, age and disability. 

How it’s changing 

2019 was the year of body positivity. In 2019 we saw the end of the Victoria Secret Fashion Show and of course the rise of Lizzo. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Lizzo has been the catalyst for the media making body positivity mainstream because “she accepts her body on her terms”. Seeing the success of Lizzo and body positivity has filled us with so much hope. It shows that changing the conversation is possible and body positivity must be apart of mainstream pop culture. 

Another highlight of the body positive year was the end of the Victoria Secret Fashion Show. The lingerie brand has been slammed in recent years by body-positive activists who criticised their iconic fashion show because of their sexist, racist, fatphobic and transphobic representations of women. The fashion show didn’t go ahead last year due to a drop in rating and sales, according to Good House Keeping. Shutting down objectifying representations of women that punish certain women because of their size, race and gender is something we are here for

How to combat diet culture 

Practising body positivity is a great way to combat diet culture in your own life and out in the wider world. Curating your social media feed is where to start. Unfollow any accounts that make you feel inferior because of your body and find accounts that celebrate all bodies, not just thin, white, cisgender bodies. 

Self-love and self-care is another way of combating diet culture. By changing the way you talk about yourself and how you feel about your body, means you are actively rejecting the myths that diet culture promotes. However, jumping into self-love immediately can be frightening. Many body positivity activists encourage ‘body acceptance’ first rather than self-love. Accepting your body as worthy and valuable deconstructs the harmful stereotypes that diet culture disseminates. 

You can do so much outside of your personal bubble to fight against diet culture. Don’t be afraid to think critically about how your friends and family talk about their bodies. If you believe to be their behaviour is supporting diet culture, talk to them about it. Have a conversation about why they feel that way and what has lead them to believe that’s true. If you don’t feel comfortable having a conversation about diet culture with your family, just remind yourself they make think that way but you don’t have to. Be in the knowledge that no matter what shape or size you are, you are a valuable and worthy individual who does NOT need to shrink themselves. 

Comment below how you are being more body positive in 2020. Share this blog via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter so we can tackle diet culture together. 

Meet the Author

jess simms

Jess is our Content & Community executive who writes about, well ...everything! She loves talking about period positivity and body positivity and, let's face it, loves a good debate. When she isn't talking about all things BeYou, she has probably got her nose in a book, cuddling her Jack Russell Terrier, Buster 🧚‍♀🐶📖

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