Don't Succumb to Diet Culture

Don't Succumb to Diet Culture

Guess what? There is no wrong way to have a body.

Inside my college's library stands a large area of blackboard with offered chalk and the open question of "What is your New Year's resolution?" While the answers vary from "wearing make-up everyday" to "make a baby", one that stood out to me, among similar others, was "lose 15 pounds".

The New Year is considered a time for cleaning up your act and determined fresh starts; unfortunately, among the celebrations and cheer, diet culture runs rampant. While it may sound unfamiliar or difficult to truly explain, "diet culture" can be best described as "society that is so inundated with dieting propaganda, that it affects how we relate to ourselves and each other", as aptly put by Melissa A. Fabello in her article for Everyday Feminism magazine.

The article that you are currently reading is not intended to criticize the individuals dieting to sincerely better themselves. Instead, this is an article intended to defend you from, and point out, the culture and self-doubt that declares you are not perfect until you are tan, have hairless skin, and a "bikini body". (You might recall Protein World's controversial beach body ad of 2015.)

In all honesty, diet culture is not established to always protect your health. Various aspects of weight loss like Weight Watchers, diet pills, and different supplements do not exist to simply improve your self-image. Since 2014, you and 108 million others are benefitting a sixty-four-billion dollar system, as recorded by Marketdata Enterprises. If anything, diet culture enforces capitalism and encourages self-hate -- not the directions toward a healthy well-being or a safe and stable mentality.

Here is a little secret: despite what the media insists, there is no wrong way to have a body. Human bodies are too varied and special. They deserve better than to be categorized to criticize and shame: fat, skinny, pear-shaped, hourglass.. We, as people, deserve more than statements like "REAL women have curves", name-calling like "twigs", and photoshopped ads with unobtainable goals. Aren't we supposed to embrace diversity, and not discourage it?

As someone who once skipped meals, who still feels guilt for eating, and continues to struggle with her self-image.. At the beginning of 2017 (or any year prior), if you crafted a New Year resolution to lose or gain weight, make sure you pursue that goal out of self-love and respect for yourself. Refuse to succumb to the enemies labeled peer pressure, fear, and self-hate.

Your body deserves better than that.

Cover Image Credit: Everyday Feminisim

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I'm Done Explaining Myself And My Body

I'm a work in progress.

When I started college as a freshman, I was small. Small in a lot of different ways, but small in body size, first and foremost. Small in the most important way, I told myself.

Today as a senior, I am larger. Larger in body size for sure, but larger in a lot of different ways that I’m starting to realize are much more important. I’m larger in areas such as spirit, mentality, and empathy.

But throughout sophomore and junior year, I was only concerned with the expansion of my body. Mostly, I was concerned with what others were thinking about it.

There are a host of reasons behind my expanding body during those years, and I spent a solid portion of those years trying to explain my reasons to everyone. Literally. Everyone. To my family, to friends past and present, to people I’d just met who hadn’t even known me when I was small. To Facebook, to Instagram, to Twitter.

I explained myself and my weight gain to anyone and everyone before they could make up their own assumptions before they could place their own narratives on my body.

In her powerful memoir, “Hunger,” Roxane Gay concurs with this particular anxiety of mine: “When you’re overweight, your body becomes a matter of public record in many respects. Your body is constantly and prominently on display. People project assumed narratives onto your body and are not at all interested in the truth of your body, whatever that truth may be.”

I was determined for people to understand my truth — even the darkest areas of that truth — because I couldn’t bear to have those typical narratives placed on me. I could not allow people to think I was simply lazy and overeating for no reason other than a lack of willpower.

First and foremost, when I was explaining my body, I’d make sure people knew that at one point not too long ago, my body was small. And by the end of my explanations, I’d still be large in size and feel even smaller in the aforementioned more important ways.

Explaining my body never left me feeling more confident and safe in how people saw me. It just reinforced that my own self-worth was equated to my body size.

Luckily, things have changed this year. Through education, experience, and consistent training of my thoughts, I’ve slowly begun redefining my self-worth and started practicing more love and acceptance towards my body. I don’t feel as great a desire to explain my body to people, although I’m certain people still have their own explanations when they see me.

I’m a work in progress. I know my truth. And that’s all that really matters.

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an ode to my stretch marks.

the title says it all

part i.

as the pounds dropped

as the rolls disappeared

as my jeans got looser

angry red stripes forced their way through my skin's surface.

it was almost like

they were hating me for the torture I was causing my body

as a single tear falls from my eye and onto to the scale that didn't change

a little voice whispers in my head:

airbrushed does not mean beautiful.

part ii.

as I watch the fiery stripes fade into ash

as I watch the soft silvery lightning bolts travel down my thighs

I think:

oh, great and mighty daughter of Thor!

birthmarks etched into your skin, softer than velvet

it's like a spark of electricity had glided its lips over your flesh

ever so tenderly

and as the thunder is rumbling in the distance

you are left unfazed,

for you are the hurricane.

part iii.

as I run my fingers over my tiger stripes

as I feel the little grooves they make in my skin

I whisper to myself with a smile:

"I have earned these."

Cover Image Credit: Zinteta

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