Thursday, 20 December 2018

'Tis The Season...To Say No To Diet Culture


Christmas is the season of many things...good will to all, the time to be jolly...but it's also a time when we're often forced to spend time with people who may not be great for our mental health. A time when we're surrounded by a lot more food than normal, which can be triggering for many people with disordered eating habits. And a time of high stress and anxiety.

For the larger people among us, it can be particularly difficult to be around toxic family members or acquaintances who may see fit to comment on our weight or pass judgements on what we choose to eat at this time of year.

On top of this, it's also the beginning of peak "Cash In On Women's Insecurities" season for diet companies - or, as they prefer to call it, "party dress season!" Which is a slightly less offensive term for the same thing.

This week alone I've seen around 12 adverts for different diet companies, weight loss products and fitness wear brands plastered across my social media feeds - all using some incredibly toxic language to shame women into thinking that they need to take action to become smaller before Christmas.

Some examples of this?

"BE THE BELLE OF THE OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY , LOSE A STONE!"

"SEQUINS ARE THE THING TO WEAR THIS PARTY SEASON, IF YOU HAVE THE FIGURE FOR THEM. TONE UP NOW WITH OUR AMAZING FAT BURNER!"

"BE A BETTER YOU THIS CHRISTMAS! DROP A DRESS SIZE!"

Now I realise that most people would look at these sentences and see nothing wrong with them...because diet culture is so deeply ingrained in our society that we don't even notice the subtle-as-a-sledgehammer messages we're continually being sent to reaffirm our core belief that Skinny=Better.

But stop and really think about it...

"IF you have the figure for the sequins..." And who gets to decide who does and does not have the figure for sequins?! The CEO of a weight loss tea company apparently

Anybody who wants to wear sequins has "the figure for them". Nobody should be made to feel that they need to change their body size in order to wear a particular item of clothing.

"Be a "Better" you?" - So by dropping a dress size, we somehow become an improved person? Because a smaller body is always a better body? This is an incredibly damaging statement. Encouraging damaging behaviour.

It's been scientifically proven that diets do not work. That, long term, 95% of dieters gain all of the weight they lose back PLUS MORE within 5 years.

Crash diets are also dangerous. As are many of the heart-rate raising, caffeine filled, laxative based "weight loss aids" sold on Instagram. But these companies are happy to encourage us to do things that are bad for our bodies by making us feel that we can only look good at parties if we're smaller.

As someone who works with advertisers often, I see first hand the push to encourage women to lose weight at this time of year. Because there is BIG money to be made in encouraging women to feel insecure, in making them fear becoming or staying fat.

Already I've had three requests to work with diet companies in January - companies are willing to throw large sums of money at me if I'll promote their weight loss shakes and encourage my followers to try out their 800 calorie per day meal replacement programmes.

It's a tough time of year to be a body positive blogger - when every work offer landing in my inbox would involve me selling something that I no longer believe in and can't support.

And it's certainly a tough time of year for all women to remember that their value and worth is not measured by their dress size.

But that is the truth.

The truth is, you can look amazing at your Christmas parties without losing a single pound.

The truth is, anyone who is worth caring about or having in your life will respect you enough to treat you with kindness and respect at gatherings....and if they don't, you can and should tell them how hurtful their behaviour is. Or simply tell them to mind their own business.

The truth is, you do not owe society's idea of beauty to anybody.

You do not need to conform or change your body to please people, or to comply with what society expects of you.

You deserve to have a wonderful Christmas, to enjoy every glass of mulled wine and every bite of food, you deserve to indulge in treats and wear something sparkly and have as much fun as you possibly can.

You deserve these things no matter what size or shape you are.

Christmas comes around once a year, make the most of it. Don't waste a single second missing out on things because society has made you feel that your body isn't up to scratch.



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