Listen to the podcast episode
Facts are irrelevant. What matters is what the consumer believes.
That quote speaks volumes to me. It quite honestly sums up diet and beauty culture perfectly. It doesn’t matter what the truth is, just what the advertisers make you believe to be the truth. It doesn’t matter what you really look or feel like, just what you think you look like and how much of it you need to change.
I know that diet culture is all around us but I’m not sure that people who aren’t immersed in it day in day out like I am would realise quite how bad it is. It’s kinda my job to know this and see it and help you to see it, but I’m aware that anyone not working in the field may not see it for what it is.
So, I did a little experiment this week. I thought I would keep a little note of every time I saw or heard anything diet culturey (yes, that IS a word now thank you Monica) and see how it looked at the end of the week. I was genuinely surprised at how often dieting, body image, beauty ideals and how we should improve ourselves came up, both in the media and in general conversation.
Are you ready for this? You might be shocked. It started very early in the day!
Here’s my list:
- It started with the breakfast tv doctor talking about losing weight.
- Another morning breakfast tv presenters were talking about weight that both they and the nation had gained.
- A diet club actually sponsors morning tv on one channel.
- There were numerous social media posts referring to weight loss and/or how to make yourself look better throughout the entire week, too many to count actually.
- One radio host joked about his own weight. Who knows whether he meant it or not. I suspect there was an element of him that did, but either way self deprecating jokes aren’t good for you.
- Social media adverts dotted around my feeds advertising diets.
- Magazines on a rack where I queued in a shop were busy commenting on celebrities’ bodies, the ‘best’ diets for coming out of lockdown, ‘healthy’ meal plans, and beauty ‘secrets’. Honestly, those mags are the worst. Please stop buying them!
- A celeb sadly died after losing her battle with an eating disorder.
- Colleagues around me discussed their weight, why they ‘shouldn’t’ eat something, and diets they are on.
- Friends commenting on their weight.
- Other friends promoting diet products and their financial gains from selling it.
- People cast for TV shows generally being more slim and glamorous than your average person on the street.
- Jokes on birthday cards referring to dieting, weight, and the negative connotations around aging.
These are just the things that I spotted, never mind the stuff that I missed, didn’t pick up on. These things are all being drip fed into the subconscious without us even knowing. So, with all that going on around us is it any wonder that we constantly question ourselves, our bodies and our looks? That we question our weight and question whether our clothes look right? That we question our hair and makeup and what people will think when we enter a room?
I eat sleep and breathe this stuff and even I was second guessing the impact of my weight on some health issues I’ve had this week (I’ll talk about that more another time).
These companies are spending millions of pounds on getting us to buy into their products. They wouldn’t do that if it didn’t work. Go back to the quote and tell me that the advertising doesn’t intentionally make us feel bad about ourselves in order to sell products. You can’t, because you see it, you hear it, and you feel it.
Principle 1 of Intuitive Eating is rejecting the diet mentality, and looking at that list it’s no surprise that this is often the hardest principle for people to get through.
It makes me so angry. People struggle with their body image and self confidence because they’re constantly being told they’re not good enough. People like poor Nikki Grahame, who sadly lost her life this week to an eating disorder. She didn’t think she was thin enough and it ultimately killed her.
Why can’t we accept that being thinner or lighter is not the be all and end all? You can be healthy without trying to live up to some crappy companies’ beauty standards.
What was refreshing though was that I did also hear a few people trying to tell others that dieting for weight loss is not the answer to better health. There was good sensible conversation rather than instantly dismissing it which is amazing.
Keep spreading the message. Keep telling people they are wonderful as they are. They are listening.
A shameless plug feels appropriate here. You may have seen that I am launching a new membership group. If you are sick of serial dieting, sick of having fear or stress around food, sick of not feeling confident in your own skin, then this is for you.
I am creating a membership and a community that is working hard to kick diet culture to the kerb and embrace our bodies.
You can learn how to eat intuitively, according to how your body feels and what it needs at any time, without rules around what you can eat and when you can eat it. Does that sound like freedom to you?
Also, as it’s before 1st June this is your lucky day. There is a founding members offer going on right now. Take a look at the Intuitively You Membership page for more details. Get in there early, lock in a low price for life, and have a say in what we are creating.
Please note: This post is intended to be general information that applies to people who don’t have diagnosed medical conditions and are not pregnant. Any figures quoted are correct at the time of writing. As always, please seek the support of a registered professional before making changes to your diet or lifestyle, or if you feel that you are affected by any of the topics discussed.