Some Thoughts on Diet Culture

Content/trigger warning: cursing, disordered eating, discussion of diet culture

I hate diet culture.

You might be saying, “Of course you do, Mara. You hate everything.” And you’d have something of a point, but I don’t hate, for example, my wonderful fiancee. Or coffee. Or The Good Place. (Have you seen the latest season? So forking good. I just wish I didn’t have to wait until January for more episodes.) But I’m getting off the subject.

I’m not an expert on the harms of diet culture. You should go to fat justice activists for that. (For example, @yrfatfriend, @Artists_Ali, @femmina, @KivanBay, and @chairbreaker_ on Twitter). If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I’m aware that it’s basically impossible for an oppressive system, culture, etc. to be oppressive on only one axis. So while I’m going to talk about how diet culture is ableist in this entry, diet culture is also fatmisic (duh), classist, and probably buys into other -isms that I’m forgetting at the moment. (I’ve had really bad brain fog this………..month.)

What you do have to know about diet culture for this entry is that diet culture is based on 1) the fatmisic idea that thin bodies are better than fat bodies and 2) the scientifically inaccurate idea that caloric intake/expenditure is the only factor in body size. Now, there are many reasons why diet culture is ableist, mostly because fatness can be directly caused by or related to disability. Weight gain and/or fatness can be features of some disabilities; for example, PCOS or hypothyroidism. Many medications cause weight gain (Carrie Fisher, may her memory be a blessing, often talked about this). Some disabilities prevent people from exercising. Also entwining fatmisia and ableism is the fact that diet culture holds that healthy = moral and thin = healthy, so by the commutative property of diet culture bullshit, thin = moral. So disabilities that cause or are related to fatness are also seen as immoral/wrong/bad.

Also, diet culture encourages people to yammer about their diets to everyone they speak to. Why is this ableist? Because eating disorders are disabilities, and diet talk can be immensely triggering for people with eating disorders. I recently went to a Friendsgiving, and two of the people close to me at the table would not shut up about dieting and weight loss, and it’s a fucking miracle of self-control that I didn’t run to the bathroom and ram my fingers down my throat. So if, for whatever reason, you are on a weight loss diet, keep your fucking lips zipped about it unless you have permission from the people around you. Yes, I am saying this now because it is almost Turkey and Genocide Day. But even when food-centric holidays aren’t happening, use content warnings when you talk about your diet on social media and ask for permission before talking about your diet in person. And add content warnings for food too.

Speaking of which, diet culture encourages judge/shame people for making supposedly unhealthy food and lifestyle choices, so don’t fall into the diet culture trap of policing people’s food choices at Turkey and Genocide Day dinner. Or, you know, fucking ever. Even if there were no possibility that the person whose choices you’re scrutinizing had an eating disorder, it’s rude and none of your fucking business. The same goes for judging/shaming people for not going to the gym/doing yoga/running/whatever; even if it’s not a disability keeping someone from exercising or making “healthy” lifestyle choices (which may not be healthy for them, hence the quotes), it could be a class issue or other issue related to being part of a marginalized group, and it’s rude and none of your fucking business.

Another thing about diet culture that triggers my eating disorder on the regular is this trend that restaurants are hopping on of having calorie information for all the dishes on the menus. My feelings about how calorie counting for a so-called diet is a slippery slope to an eating disorder if not an eating disorder itself aside, many people with eating disorders or who are in recovery from an eating disorder can’t handle seeing calorie information. I don’t mind restaurants having calorie information available if a customer asks, but having calorie information right smack dab on the damn menus can make a restaurant inaccessible. I wish I knew how to actually do something about this. If you have any ideas, by all means, let me know.

So tl;dr diet culture is harmful as shit, keep quiet about your diet or make sure you have permission to discuss it so you don’t trigger anyone, and restaurants need to stop it with the calories on menus.

That’s all I have for now. I hope everyone survives Turkey and Genocide Day.

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thisisforyoucarrie View All →

Mentally ill activist and angry Disabled loudmouth. Neuroqueer as hell.

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