“Diet and wellness (cult)ure are tools of oppression that cause physical and emotional trauma and marginalizes and discriminates against larger bodies"

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“Diet and wellness “cult”ure are tools of oppression that cause physical and emotional trauma and marginalizes and discriminates against larger bodies”

As esteemed anti-diet dietitian and intuitive eating counselor, Dr. Christy Harrison defines it so well, diet culture is a system of beliefs that:

1) worship thinness/fitness; equating it with morality and worth
2) promotes weight-loss and purposefully keeps the public in the dark and uninformed about the harmful and detrimental long term effects that intentional weight loss has on overall holistic health and well-being
3) emblematizing specific foods choices or eating behaviors, while demonizing others, equating certain foods or behaviors as “indulgent” and others as “safe”, especially dependent  on the size body in which the subject inhabits, and
4) results in the oppression, exclusion, mistreatment and violence of people in larger bodies

Here below, are some everyday examples of commonplace complicities in diet culture that show up often throughout our daily lives. These instances instances offer us a chance to (pardon me) SPEAK THE FUCK UP and inflect the conversation (or self reflect) with knowledge on the harm that it causes and the fatphobia it perpetuates.

  1. Considering and commenting on foods, ingredients, food groups, as “good”, “clean” versus “bad” “dirty”, having “guilty pleasure” foods,

  2. “We walked for so long today, we can indulge a bit!”

  3. “I went overboard during the holidays, so I’m going to pass on that slice of cake.”

  4. Workplaces, organizations, etc only offering “healthy choices”, “guilt-free” foods, and attempts to monitor employee diet and exercise (<- seriously fucking gross)

  5. Openly pointing out and discussing calorie counts of foods, unprompted

  6. Publicly discussing personal diet/weight loss pursuits

  7. Commenting on people’s size/”slimness”/perceived weight-loss “OMG look at you! You’re so tiny!”, “That dress looks so slimming on you!”

  8. Glorifying people for their “healthy choices”, commitment to a “healthy lifestyle”

  9. Striving to get one’s “body back” post-pregnancy

  10. As a thin/straight size person… complaining about your personal body size/shape dissatisfaction, also claiming to “feel fat”, or appropriating “fat” as a behavior (ie “I was so fat this weekend, I watched the Super Bowl and I ate so much bean dip”)

What these daily happenstances very blatantly communicate, is that “fat is bad”, that we should be actively trying to avoid it, and that expensive and exhaustive attempts to do so should be congratulated and celebrated. When diet culture comes under scrutiny, capitalism, with its sneaky opportunism, repackages it as “wellness culture”, slaps a bow on it, and attempts to convince us that it’s all about #self-care, as Harrison notes. You can read way more about this from her articles here:
https://christyharrison.com/blog/what-is-diet-culture
https://christyharrison.com/blog/the-wellness-diet

If you are a straight-size/thin person who claims co-conspirator/allyship, you MUST COMMIT to challenging the language and behaviors around us that fuel diet culture, and to helping others understand the inherent fatphobia of these narratives and the discomfort, harm, and trauma that they cause.


Alright, resources time!!

  1. @yrfatfriend on instagram has a poignant call to action for thin/straight size allies on their Instagram story highlights tab labeled “FAQs”

  2. This here article has wonderful insights from some of my favorite promiment fat activists: https://mic.com/articles/185380/5-fat-activists-sound-off-on-how-thin-people-can-become-real-allies#.ORWXf7Jie

  3. A very thoughtful and inciting blog post by DancesWithFat on thin/straight size allyship https://danceswithfat.org/2013/09/03/how-to-be-a-fat-activism-ally/

Jamie J. LeClaire