A Reflection on the Destructiveness of 'Diet-Culture' and the 'Body-Positivity' Movement

Diets, diet-culture and the health & fitness Industry are all seriously destructive. But it’s not just the weight-loss industry, it’s the advertising, marketing and even the, yes I said it, the “Body Positivity” movement that are creating generation after generation of unhealthy habits and feeding our feelings of insufficiency.

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This attack on our self-esteem does not preclude any gender, any race, or any sexual orientation. While women are often the target of commercials aimed towards weight loss, men are also taught to find conventional beauty more attractive and thus, perpetuate the cycle of women “working on their weight and looks” to get a man. Men are raised by women who hate their bodies and they go on to find women who do the same, believing they should feel that way. 

I firmly believe we should not have to justify our existence because we do not look like an airbrushed Victoria’s Secret Angel or Maxim’s Top 100.  

Whether it is intermittent fasting, 3 meals and 2 snacks, 6 small meals, a big breakfast and light dinner, Weight Watchers, Shakeology or Nutrisystem- the list of weight-loss programs being mass-marketed out does not end. This is something weight-loss conglomerates, sometimes guised in proponents of a “healthy lifestyle change,” conveniently hide.

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 If you succeed on their program, you no longer need their product. In 2016, the U.S. Weight Loss Market was worth a whopping $66 billion dollars. That number did not get so overwhelmingly high by encouraging people to reach a truly healthy and sustainable lifestyle. It did so by helping people fail, and offering them new and ‘better’ products when they do. 

The devastation caused by weight-loss and body-image advertising extends far beyond products and programs. It encompasses movements like the notorious “thigh gap” and shockingly, even the Body Positivity movement. I whole-heartedly believe it had good intentions and that some advocates within the new wave of self-care and self-love still genuinely have benevolent goals in mind. However, it still strays from the message of creating healthy, attainable habits with wholesome nutrition and strength in mind. 

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While EveryBODY should be accepted and treated as both worthy and valuable, this does not implicitly mean each one is healthy and operating at an optimum capacity. Morbid obesity is just as destructive as the anorexia we see so often gracing the covers of fashion magazines. There are extremes, and we are meant to be living in moderation, balanced soundly in the middle. 

I encourage you to listen to what your body needs and accept others regardless of their size, but push yourself to become stronger and healthier each day. You can reach a balance once you learn to unlearn the marketing ploys so deeply ingrained in your subconscious. All it takes is a little time to learn about what your body needs specifically to reach its full potential, and then changing and adapting until you get there.