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The name is Culture. Diet culture.

You may feel we are no more than acquaintances, but I’ve known you forever. I was there on the dining table each and every time ice-cream was a special treat and you had to eat all those low class vegetables before you earned dessert. Building a moral hierarchy of foods is no easy task, so pardon my constant intervention. Thankfully, I know people in the right places and my friends Media, Marketing and Food Industry tend to keep the ball rolling once I introduce a new trend.


Remember all the times you saw your role models looking at themselves in the mirror in disgust, grabbing their tummy skin and declaring the start of another diet? You bet I understand the power our loved ones have on us, and what better way to perpetuate body dissatisfaction if not with their unsuspecting help? I never miss a defining moment like that.

  • "Are you sure you are going to eat all that?" - start with the kindling...

  • "Shouldn't you be avoiding *insert problem food of the day*? You're a little chubby." - add some friction...

  • "I don't know how you can eat this much!" - a spark...

  • "Every morning I *insert some complicated and unappealing ritual very early in the day* . Why can't you just do the same?" - watch it all burn!

As you grew a little older, you may have started noticing me a bit more, even though you didn't quite know who I was. You may have called me 'Hollywood", but I was right by your side, while we sat and learnt from romantic comedies that eating ice-cream and cookies (on the couch and in secret) should be your first response in an attempt to deal with uncomfortable feelings. I also taught you to judge other people by their appearances, remember? My mantra goes something like this: Skinny people are healthy, happy and have their shit together. The larger the body, the lazier, unhealthier and unhappier they are. Don't you love the oversimplification and random associations? I do, it's genius.

Now you are an independent adult, and all that drip feed work I have been doing over the years has paid off. It's like I'm inside your head. Remember that time when you blamed your body for not fitting into size X jeans, instead of realising that they were simply the wrong size pants for you? Oh boy, I was so proud of that moment! I’m defined in your thoughts, thoughts like:


  • This food is bad. I have been bad/naughty today because I ate a bad food.

  • I can only eat two squares, any more and I'm a fat walrus.

  • Although I'm hungry, I will wait until 10am because 9am is the wrong time to eat.

  • I'm feeling guilty for eating this much, it surely shows I have no self-control and can't be left alone with this food.


Now, I could have kept hiding in the shadows, as I have been doing for so long. However, lately I noticed that you have been stopping eating when you are satisfied, and I could not detect a trace of guilt after that dessert the other day. What the heck is going on?



Fine. Maybe I haven't been the best of companions. I certainly haven't taught you a single thing about actually nourishing your body, or looking after yourself and employing compassion and empathy, I certainly never encouraged you to view food in a non-judgemental way. Blergh. But hey, we had good times together, right? I created chaos, then gave you a false sense of security - Isn't that enough!? After all these years we've been together?!


Only you can keep me going.

XOXO,

Diet Culture

______


We are here for you when you are ready to ditch this bitch.

Pura Vida.


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