We live in a diet culture and most of us are not even aware of it. I certainly wasn’t, not until recently when I could finally see what this culture does to everyone – anyone.
I feel as though my eyes have opened, which I can now not un-see, realising how effective and how controlling and powerful diet culture really is. We are somewhat dictated and we do not even know it!
Diet culture is society’s ideology of what we should look like, how health is perceived and how a certain appearance is prevalent over another, a fixed belief that certain qualities have to be adhered to and if it is not, it should be shameful.
“We are somewhat dictated and we do not even know it!”
Growing up for me, it was always normal to talk about diets, weight loss and even to this day it hasn’t changed, society is so fixated on diet, no wonder the diet industry is constantly booming! I used to always want a flat stomach, a six pack. But why? Because it looks better? And why does it look better? Because this is the ideal I had been made to believe. I am sure most of us have criticised our bodies, or even certain parts of our bodies, because it does not adhere to what is acceptable. It makes us believe we are not worthy, not good enough. We work so hard to achieve the “perfect” body, the “perfect” look, and for what? To feel a sense of worth, to be admired and appealing to others.
Imagine if you were the only person on this earth, would you still feel the same about your appearance? Would you still want to achieve that “perfect” look? Would it matter how we looked? Probably not. Most of the time we do it in order to look more aesthetically pleasing to others. If we want to do it then we should do it for ourselves because we genuinely want to without being dictated by diet culture.
“It makes us believe we are not worthy, not good enough”
Diet culture fuels the obsession with being healthy, but health is different for everyone, being healthy is being happy, having good mental health, enjoying life, health is not exclusively what we eat, how we look and how much we exercise.
Have you ever said to yourself “I wish my arms or legs were smaller/more toned”. If the answer is “yes” then my question is – why? I am challenging you to think, why do you want these things? Have a long deep think about it, is it because you want to look better? Most likely yes. This is an example of diet culture that has made you believe that the “look” you are striving for is better. There is nothing wrong with not being toned or in a smaller body, but we are made to believe it is not good enough. We are all good enough, your appearance is the least important thing about you, you have so much about you that appearance should not even come into it.
I am not here to be liked, I am here to be me and live my life the way I want, not to be dictated by a culture that does not have my best interests, that does not care, a culture that profits from our insecurities whilst at the same time also contrubutes to those insecurities. A culture that is damaging, dangerous and even deathly.
Yes I still struggle, and yes I partly blame diet culture for my struggles, it has contributed to my ill mental health, where my self worth was already at an all time low, the meaning I gave my self worth was dependant on the way I looked, which is where diet culture plays a part in this, if there were no ideals, no expectations, I would not have made the connection. I have developed an illness that has become so fixated in my head, one of the most hardest things I’ve had to deal with and challenge, and at the same time, feeling resentful towards diet culture for contributing to this.
“Your appearance is the least important thing about you”
The extent to which I have gone through, to adhere to the standards, from checking every single label on food before I eat, to body checking every part of my body, to weighing myself countless times a day. The longing to be healthly has actually made me unhealthy, I have become a victim of diet culture and have developed an illness I just do not want, an illness that is getting me down, an illness that is dictating my life, an illness which tricks me, making my perception about myself so distorted. I just want out. I feel such sadness inside everyday, everyday having to fight and get through, fighting to live by my own rules, being in such conflict with myself that everyday is a struggle. But I will keep up the fight, and with my now perspective of society and seeing how it can contribute to the onset of an eating disorder and other mental health illnesses, I will always challenge diet culture, wanting to make a change, not only for myself but for all of us.
So I am breaking free of all the rules, the ideals, the expectations. Trying to live a life that is not for everyone else and to not seek approval. Just remember that you are more than your appearance, please do not feel you have to change to fit into society’s standards, break free and live by your own rules, do whatever makes you happy and is right for you.