The False Narrative of Diet Culture

Anna Deane '23, Social Media Coordinator

If you are a teenager or an adult, you have likely fallen victim to diet culture at least once in your lifetime. Diet culture is the false narrative that losing weight prevents or cures health issues.

Diet culture worships thinness and correlates that thinness with being healthy. It tells us that there’s only one way to look and that is skinny. This way of thinking contributes to mental health concerns and eating disorder behaviors, specifically among teenagers and young adults. Diet culture has taught society to believe that without the “ideal” body, we will not have any value or worth in our lives.

Diet culture robs people of all sizes of money, health, and happiness. It plays a significant role in causing eating disorders, body obsession, weight stigma, and fatphobia.

When we cannot meet the impossible standards diet culture has, we are left feeling ashamed, ultimately resulting in some individuals engaging in disordered eating behaviors, which can end up being a vicious cycle to get out of, especially when living in a society that normalizes these dangerous behaviors.

From a young age, it is taught that there are “good” foods and “bad” foods, and as a result, you are left being so focused on what you’re eating and whether its “good” or “bad” that you are not able to enjoy the moment fully. Food is supposed to provide pleasure, satisfaction, comfort, and much more, but diet culture is stealing those reasons from so many people.

In a society where diet culture is all around us, from food marketing labels like “skinny girl” and “guilt-free,” it can be hard to remember that health is not determined by body size, and health means different things for different people depending on a variety of factors. Food restriction is physically and psychologically damaging and can result in an assortment of health problems.

Following diet culture beliefs are not going to make you happy and your life is not designed to constantly be worrying about food. Even if society says other wise, your body is perfectly fine the way it is when you feel your best.