These trousers don’t fit

Since getting a bit of distance between myself and diet culture, I’ve realised how ridiculous, how damaging, and actually how downright horrifying it is.

If you want ridiculous – I remember what set me on the weight cycling track again a few years ago; my jeans were cutting into my waist, causing my stomach to hang over them and leaving a livid red line across my midriff every day. I couldn’t take it any more, so I decided to lose weight. The standard response in our society, yes?

But just for a second let’s put aside the years of indoctrination and look at the logic of this. A bit of fabric that would last a year at the most (but probably more like 4 or 5 months with me) didn’t fit my body, and instead of just buying a bigger bit of fabric that would fit me, I decided to drastically alter the one body I will ever have.

I embarked on years of effort and stress and hating the food I was eating but eating it anyway because it was ‘on plan’ and doing exercise that I hated, in an effort to make myself less. Forcing my body to eat itself smaller, further messing up my metabolism and mental health, to fit this bit of fabric.

 

Damaging – if I had a pound for every time I’ve thought “I’m too fat to…” I would be a multi-millionaire by now. Too fat to run, to wear this, that or the other, to speak up, to draw attention, to cosplay, to eat that, to eat there, to get that job, to be admired, to feel sexy, to shop there, to try that, to be seen, to be loved. I could go on. For days.

I was bullied all the way through high school, but nothing they ever did or said came close to the level of vitriol I directed at myself. Whatever they said, I had already said it ten different ways before I even got to school that day.  If anyone ever spoke to me now the way I used to speak to myself, I would knock them out.

But that’s what I was raised to do. Our entire society is trained to believe to the very core that if we’re not thin, we’re not worthy of basic human decency, even from ourselves.

 

And horrifying? People are literally getting pieces of themselves removed, shrinking their stomach and risking clinical malnutrition, rickets, even death, just to make their body smaller. I’ve shared before about a colleague being hospitalised, and others joking that at least she had lost weight so it was okay.

Ragen Chastain puts it best when she says diet culture wants us thin or dead, and it doesn’t much care which. If that’s not horrifying then I don’t know what is.

 

It was so difficult at the beginning to go against everything I had ‘always’ believed, and there are still days where I feel it would be so much easier to just give in to the pressure and try to lose weight again. But the longer I’m out of it, the easier it is to see how much I’m better off being outside of something so toxic, and I will never go back there again.

xXx

 

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Real life horror story

Or Why I Will Never Ever Be Part Of The Diet Industry Ever Again

One of my colleagues was ill over Christmas and new year, bad enough to have been hospitalised and still unable to return to work two weeks later. Which led to the following conversation.

Colleague 1: She can’t even eat; she’s lost about a stone

Colleague 2: Oh well that’s alright then!

Colleague 1: I know, she must be so happy

Colleague 3: Every cloud and all that

Colleague 4: I’m so jealous

Colleague 1: Aye, me too. I might go for a visit – see if I can catch something!

*All laughing*

Me: *silently screaming into my hands*

 

I’ve heard of people with cancer who lost weight because they were unable to eat without throwing up or their gums were too sore for food, who were then told “cancer really suits you!”. But I didn’t really believe that could have happened, that people could be so phenomenally superficial.  That anyone could ever say to another human being, “Yes, you might die, but at least you’ll go out skinny!”.

I believe it now.

This is what our beauty ideal and the diet industry have created. Thin is good, praiseworthy, to be envied, no matter how it’s achieved. Anything that makes us lose weight is automatically good, even if it will kill us.

How did we let this become a thing? How did we get to a point where people can have a conversation like that and not be utterly, utterly horrified? I know I am.