In your experience, when would you say you started to question the thickness of your thighs, the squishiness of your belly or the alluring benefits of a diet? As a teenager? Perhaps earlier, when you where 8 or 9?
If you have stumbled upon a children's pageant show on TV, you will know that diet culture's influence starts uncomfortably early. Clothing, fake tans, sparkly make up and teeth whitening at the age of 3. Although it raises it's ugly head in extreme examples like this, it continues to work at a much more pervasive level on our everyday lives. This is where I noticed it the other day: baby shorts.
As a mum of a very curious little baby who is crawling everywhere and starting to walk, it makes sense to me that knees should have a least a layer of cloth protecting that delicate skin from the perils of learning a new skill on a range of rough surfaces. There I go to the shops, in search of some protective gear and, what do I find? Knee grazing, scar forming, short shorts! Surely some parent must have thought about this in the past? How are babies supposed to learn how to walk safely in summer? Surely there are shorts that are long enough to cover ones knees? Oh, there they are. In the boys section*.
Sure, pageant shows are horrifying, but I have never met a participant or their parents in real life. Not even the friend of a friend of the cousin of the neighbor. Little girls wearing impractical clothes to look cute while boys have all the freedom of movement they require as a toddler? ALL THE TIME. I can't help but think of the message we are sending here: female legs are to be exhibited, girls don't play rough, women should accept a level of discomfort in whatever they wear... and I wonder how much of these messages are questioned, or even noticed in our day to day.
Diet culture is slimy. It really sinks into the little crevasses of everyday life and shows up in the most mundane of activities, shaping our choices, our thoughts and opinions on what we should look like and how it is acceptable to get there. It doesn't have to be this way though. There is a whole wide world out there where little girls can wear long shorts without a worry, people are comfortable in their bodies and food is seen as nourishment, not punishment.
Questioning these little absurdities in everyday life is a good way to begin the journey towards freedom from diet culture. Let me know what you find!
I teach people to respect and reconnect with themselves, with the food they eat and the world they live in. If you are ready to work with me, you can book an appointment here.
*The fact that there are girls and boys sections for such a young age is another point of discussion. But alas, one for another day.