Diet culture is not specific to anyone or anything. It affects everyone irrespective of any preconditions. Be it a teenage girl or a 50-year-old lady, an adolescent boy, or a 60-year-old man, it leaves no one unhinged.
But what is diet culture in its entirety? It’s a system & social movement that celebrates thinness while equating this body type to health & moral virtue. Diet Culture can be dated back to as early as Ancient Greece, where those who didn’t follow the proper diet were deemed uncivilized. Fast forward to the present day, society continues to label bodies & foods as good, bad, clean, healthy, and unhealthy.
As the meaning suggests, this culture works towards the glorification of thinness as the only acceptable and desirable form of a body. From having an hourglass figure to a thigh gap, it makes people believe in unattainable body goals.
But why are these unattainable? Having a thigh gap is not dependent on how much fat you carry on your thighs, but on your bone structure. While you can tone the area, if your bone structure is not constructed to allow you to have a thigh gap, you practically will never have one, which is nothing to whine or be sad about! These “unnatural” bodies that float around the web on a daily basis, including photos that are photoshopped/edited, photos that are taken from the “right angle” or “before & afters” has shown to lead to yo-yo dieting, body dissatisfaction, disordered eating, eating disorders, weight stigma and health inequalities amongst people. This culture has made us train our minds to believe that every person who’s larger than the average person is unhealthy. However, that is not true! A woman who is 45 Kgs can be unhealthier than a woman who weighs 60 Kgs. That is why it’s recommended to not judge a book by its cover.
A petite person might be petite not because of their eating habits but their metabolism, and a large person might be larger only because of a slow metabolism. All this is natural and cannot be altered, but what can be altered is our perceptions and mindsets.
We are often told that thinness will lead to success, wealth & happiness. Therefore, to achieve this body type, people enter the vicious cycle of dieting, where they engage in dietary restriction and excessive exercise.
Be it Keto, Paleo, Low-Carb, Low-Fat or Intermittent Fasting, all of them have ramifications that are seemingly boundless.
In the short term, this method is usually successful as your body goes through a drastic change in haste, but do you want to look your best only for a month or two?. The majority of these “diet plans” lead to weight regain in the long- term. Diet culture is insidious and ingrained in our everyday interactions with friends & family, the media & health information. While losing a little bit of weight is fruitful, giving in to unrealistic beauty standards just for the sake of what others might think of you is unsatisfactory. Every body is beautiful just the way it is and everyone is perfect in their own ways.