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.