Given the work I do as an eating disorders dietitian, it’s pretty obvious to me that diet culture and disordered messaging about food, exercise, appearance and health are everywhere. I mean, it’s what I talk about all day every day.
So I’m pretty intentional about taking mental breaks from this stuff in my personal life. I engage in activities and hobbies that have nothing to do with that stuff. (Click here and scroll down to the Fun Facts for a few examples if you’re curious.)
Yet, it never ceases to amaze me how the diet culture messaging can infiltrate every facet of our lives. In fact, it’s not only obnoxious, it’s infuriating sometimes.
Some examples I ran into in the past couple of weeks:
- I was listening to a financial podcast about saving for retirement, and suddenly the host was asking the interviewee about his diet + exercise regimen. And don’t even get me started on how diet-y and ridiculous it was. The disturbing thing is how many followers this guy has and how many people are going to take this and apply it to themselves.
- Scrolling through Facebook, someone had posted about losing weight (with the classic before/after photos), and the number of likes and praise she got was mind boggling. Why do we feel the need to praise this so much? And why do we feel the need to post about weight loss? (Hint: It’s about diet culture and weight stigma.)
- Then I saw a Facebook ad for a super sketchy weight loss product, so I reported the ad to Facebook as misleading and dangerous. And it felt really good to do so. BAM!
- And this example isn’t recent, but it’s classic. How about the time that the interior designer fat shamed my dog while also shaming me for what I feed her. It was a *super* uncomfortable situation and I almost fired her on the spot.
- Or how about birth announcements where weight is almost always included? If you received one from me when my kids were born, you may have noticed that it was devoid of the baby’s weight. It only said their name, date and time of birth. “That’s dumb, Katy, just chill out,” you might be thinking - but I did this on principle. The first thing the world knows about my child as a human being doesn’t need to be their weight.
Be curious about this for a few days. How many examples of diet culture do you encounter? It’s probably shocking if you are paying attention.