Re-evaluating diet culture

Diet culture causes more harm than good

Cutting essential nutrients out of your life is unhealthy.

For the 2022 Met Gala, Kim Kardashian embarked on a crash diet to lose sixteen pounds in three weeks just to fit in Marilyn Monroe’s dress. 

For the past couple years, celebrities have trended online for losing immense amounts of weight in short amounts of time, crediting strict diets and intense workouts for changing their appearances in record time.

Influencers, celebrities, and civilians alike have been embarking on these
severe lifestyle-changes for the sake of weight loss.

Outside of weight loss, there’s been several fad diets rising and falling within the public consciousness. Many of them intense, rigid, and restrictive. It’s clear we’re living in an age when policing your food intake is more normal than ever.

Having dietary preferences or needs is normal and okay. Whether it’s allergies, taste or texture preferences, or a matter of ethics, what you eat and why is your business. Having a specific diet isn’t bad in a vacuum, and wanting to be healthy, eat healthy, and feel good is admirable. Of course, we should all aspire to be healthy.

But we don’t live in a vacuum.

A flawed society creates flawed concepts and values, and diet culture hides toxic ideals in a mask of health consciousness.

Some of the most famous examples of strict diets come from celebrities and influencers, who seek to lose weight rapidly or prevent themselves from gaining weight. To be transparent, they do it in an unhealthy manner.

I bring up Kim Kardashian because of her specific place in society. She’s a style icon who created the benchmark for beauty standards in the late 2010s. Her actions, her style, and what she chooses to promote sends a message about what is stylish, beautiful, and desirable.

When style icons like Kim Kardashian promote diet culture through crash diets or weight loss teas, they send a clear message of what body is aspirational. They promote fatphobia by making being anything but thin incredibly undesirable.

There are healthy ways to look and feel fit. To accomplish such a thing in a healthy manner, however, you must make healthy choices. Following a no carbs, no sugar, no fat, no sodium four-month diet is not the healthy choice.

To truly have a healthy diet, you need a balance of all the food groups—if you can eat them. Carbs are hugely important, and so is sugar, believe it or not. So many diets demand a hard cut-off of essential nutrients just because they might cause a shift in weight and, more desirably, a change in appearance.

Heavy restriction and calorie counting—something that comes side by side with diet culture—are also aspects of disordered eating habits.

All in all, the many harms of diet culture means that our relationship with food and our bodies is deteriorating.

We need to re-evaluate our relationship to food and diets. Wanting to eat healthy and feel good are good goals, but being healthy means more than being skinny. Reckoning with diet culture also means reckoning with toxic beauty standards and trying to find real holistic ways of engaging with food and beauty.

Compromising your health to mirror the Kardashians’ body image is detrimental and unrealistic. The Kardashians don’t even look like the real Kardashians without Botox and plastic surgery.

Let’s not mistake reality for fiction. 

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