We live in an age where most of our waking hours are spent engulfed in the screen of a computer that fits in the palm of our hands. A time when we compare ourselves to a bikini model we’ve never met in Australia. A time where lollipops that suppress our hunger relentlessly target ads to promote looking like said obscure bikini model in Australia.
We live in a time where marketing is so deeply ingrained in our culture that the narratives we all live by are ones created by men in suits several decades before we were even born. A time where if we’re not hitting the gym every day, we’re lazy. A time when Spartan-like gyms exist to push your body to its literal limits.
We live in a time where diet culture isn’t just an option anymore, it’s everywhere we look. It’s in the supermarkets in the form of “low fat” cookies. It’s in the caption of a fitness guru on Instagram. It’s continuously promoted to us in Facebook ads and TV commercials.
Weight loss is a $66 billion industry. Creating a world that is constantly promoting the latest diet trend or fitness craze has a significant financial incentive for many companies.
But what if I told you that dieting culture is a perfectly planned out marketing scheme that thrives off making others feel inadequate? What if I told you a lot of it was just lies?
Dieting culture is more than just trying to make us feel like we need to lose a few extra pounds, it shapes the way we value other humans and their bodies. It even creates a frame of reference for how much we’re able to look in the mirror and love ourselves.
These lies have been told and sold to us for too long. It’s time to wake up to the messages we’re always hearing and re-frame these notions for ourselves.
Let’s dive in:
1. Your worth correlates to the number on the scale
A popular notion amongst fitness gurus is the idea of measuring success by the number displayed on a scale. Not taking into account things like water weight and the fact that muscle weighs more than fat, every time your naked body steps up onto a scale, the number should be less than the time before. If not, your character comes into question.
Because for some odd reason, people have twisted their minds to think that their weight is the most interesting thing about them. That, for the majority of people, losing weight is the greatest achievement they’ll make in their life.
But that’s simply not the case. Our worth is not tied to our weight. Sure, if you have significant health concerns, your physical well-being could be linked to your weight. But regardless of all of that, our worth is never tied to our weight. We are not more or less lovable given the number on a scale.
2. You need to spend a lot of money to achieve true health
Nowadays, there’s always something new and scientifically exciting to buy to help improve your health. Whether it be a promising new mushroom harvested from the Antarctic tundra that promises to detox your body or another questionably unsafe workout routine from an Instagram model with zero credentials, there’s always something to buy.
The fact is that we don’t need to spend so much money on our health. We’re not complex creatures that require aid from different gadgets and superfoods to thrive.
Simple movement every day, pushing our physical limits every now and then, eating unprocessed foods, and getting a lot of sunshine will do our bodies just fine.
The rest is all just unnecessary — it’s all just profits in a company’s pocket.
3. One of the greatest achievements you’ll ever make is fine-tuning your body
As if being a sentient being on this planet wasn’t a high enough accomplishment, changing our bodies with extreme measures has become the new life goal for many.
But I dare you to see things differently. What about your career goals? Starting a company? Making a difference in your community?
What about starting a loving family? Being the best daughter to your parents? Creating a life that makes you truly happy?
Those are all achievements that surpass the individual. You are doing good for yourself and others. You’re shifting the focus from solely on your physique to achievements bigger than yourself.
Regardless if you choose to make fitness or weight loss your goal, just know that it’s not a necessary one. Your value as a human does not lie in whether or not you choose to make that a priority.
4. The results we see are easy and natural to achieve
Most of the before and after photos we see are either photoshopped or not actually achieved through the product they’re advertising.
The Kardashians are known to promote those flat tummy teas, but we’re all blatantly aware that 1. they had their physique before promoting those teas and 2. their bodies have had a lot of work done on them.
And the Kardashians aren’t the only ones twisting the truth when it comes to dieting products.
So please don’t buy into the idea that tea can magically make you lose weight. Please don’t think that you’ll look like an online fitness coach after doing their five-week program.
Marketing is molded to make us think that results are a lot easier to achieve than they actually are.
5. If you’re not losing weight, you’re letting yourself go
Again, our value as a human being is not dependent on our size.
It’s a sad reality that we live in that people care so much about this idea. I do think people should work to be as healthy as they can be, but healthy looks different for everyone. Yet people are fixated on either losing or gaining weight. It’s as if there’s no in-between.
And if you’re feeling good and happy with where you are, then there’s really no reason to try to lose weight. Find a stable, healthy point for yourself and forget the outside messages telling you to look differently.
6. Thin, white bodies are the ideal
HA. I still can’t believe this is prevalent in our culture. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a non-white person growing up in our society.
Ads of thin, able-bodied white women are everywhere. At least I share a skin tone with them, but my curvy body and big thighs keep me from ever actually being able to achieve that kind of form.
It’s sad that women are made to feel like they need to resemble people that aren’t even of the same ancestry as them. That only one kind of physique is ideal and of value.
That’s simply not true though. Every woman’s body is beautiful and unique in its own way. There’s not one standard of beauty in this world.
So let’s embrace all bodies. All women deserve a chance to feel beautiful, you included.
Once we’re able to see through the lies, we can stop believing in them. Though deeply rooted in our society, we no longer need to be victims to dieting culture’s careless messaging.
You can live a life free of guilt and shame. You can live one where weight isn’t such a concern. You can live above these ideas we’ve been fed.
And I promise, when you do, it will be well worth it.