Diet Culture

So my first ever blog post on Pepper was called “I am not Fat” and it discussed the unhealthy language surrounding weight. But I now want to talk about another aspect of the topic; I think it’s really disgusting how we perceive health and the ways we strive to attain health. As a Christian, I cannot stress how important it is to take care of our bodies in God’s eyes, and the diet culture is so opposed to this because it tells us that our only goal is looking like we take care of ourselves, even if our organs are literally screaming for life. We were made for love, but this toxic body ideology stops us from being loved by forcing us to hate ourselves and forcing everyone else to only love our physicality.

“In short, diet culture is filthy.”

Diet culture has done a really good job of making health no longer synonymous with physical and mental fitness and has recentred health solely around image. This is not only degrading as it reduces people to the presence or absence of fat on their bodies, but it’s also shallow and almost stretching the borders of cult-like. There’s such a brewing obsession with ourselves in every aspect of our culture, but the worship or sacrifice of self in diet culture is unreal. Whether you’re obsessed with yourself because of how you look or you’re obsessing over your flaws in the mirror, both are negative. People are literally willing to starve themselves for an image – are we not concerned? I’d argue that starving yourself is like a religious sort of fast, except the only god that you’re honouring in the process is the false image of you that you aspire to be.

But the whys of diet culture are far more shocking. Diet culture is somehow simultaneously self-obsessive but also self-negligent. How can I look at myself in the mirror everyday and love the way I look and yet still be eating right for others to love me? Diet culture suggests that we have to change our eating habits to be loved and to be conventionally attractive, but not for our own wellbeing and self-preservation. I loathe the ultimatum that diet culture has for us:

“You can be loved or you can be fat.”

We are programmed to believe that a better body will mean better quality of life because other people will treat us better and people are programmed to treat better bodies better. But why can’t we adopt a healthy lifestyle and have a better life because healthy living frees us from physical restrictions? Don’t get me started on the quick fix methods that are pushed on us to achieve that. Like seriously, let’s not even get into flat tummy teas, tablets and shakes from corporations who force feed us our insecurities just so that they have something to capitalise off of. Don’t get me wrong, we need to take care of ourselves and eat right. But the key word is “right” and forging health isn’t that.

-Pepper

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