Most of us remember this famous utterance from The Kate Moss, and some of us can still remember the absolute uproar that her comments caused.
Of course, at the time, it was pretty much a perfect insight into what the modeling industry was like in her time, and Kate had no idea just how much criticism the comment would come under fire for, as well as being adopted by several pro-anorexia websites.
The BBC interviewed her years later about her infamous comments, and she said: “There’s so much more diversity now, I think it’s right. There’s so many different sizes and colours and heights. Why would you just be a one-size model and being represented for all of these people?”
Nevertheless, diet culture has been around for a long time. Trends have come and gone. From kale salads, smoothies, detoxes, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice concoctions, Paelo, the 5:2, cabbage soup diet and more… we have been jumping on and off diet trends for years.
The Rise of Anti-diet Culture
As Vice said in an article about the rise of anti-diet culture: “As with any cultural trend, something had to fill the turmeric-stained void it is rapidly leaving behind. Combining our ultimate rejection of goji berries and a newfound love of #lovingourbodies, the anti-diet movement encourages an intuitive approach to food and has gained popularity among nutritionists and body-positive influencers.”
It’s not surprising that anti-diet culture has risen over the last few years. With so many women taking back control in all areas of life from their careers, to being mothers, through to the #metoo movement, it was only time that they were going to start reclaiming their bodies.
Nowadays, we have started to see some brilliant steps taken to make sure all bodies are represented. This includes seeing all body types represented online and in publications. People such as Tess Holliday, Lizzo, Ashley Graham, Malin from Love Island, Jameela Jamil’s iWeigh movement and many more are at the forefront of changing body image for good.
Glorious pictures of women celebrating their curves, cellulite, small breasts, big breasts, scars, birthmarks, skin conditions, rolls of fat and more have become more prevalent on social media, helping followers take the steps themselves to self-acceptance and breaking the idea that to be happy you must be a certain type of body type, weight and/or have a certain aesthetic.
Not only are women learning to embrace themselves and their bodies in this movement, but it has also seen a lot of men join the anti-diet culture movement, learning to step away from the perception that men should be manly/hairy/muscly to be masculine. In many ways, it is a beautiful and positive community that seems to be building online.
Is Anti-diet Culture Exclusive?
Becky Young, the founder of The Diet Riot Club hit the headlines after her account became increasingly popular and her messages of body acceptance circulated among her followers. She said: “Diets are still out there, our society is inherently fatphobic and we are all suffering because of it. Diet culture tells you that when you achieve your dream of losing weight you’ll be happy and successful. It sells you a false dream.”
With anti-diet culture rising, many people have questioned whether it means that those that want to lose weight are going to be excluded, but that simply is not the case. The idea of anti-diet culture is that you can feel good about yourself and achieve a healthier weight, but that there are healthier ways to do this that will protect your mental health as well as physical health. It’s not about NOT losing weight and being healthy, but it is about abolishing the idea that being fat = not being fit. It’s about accepting all bodies because that’s what makes us who we are. It’s no longer One Size Fits All.
Wired also ran an article called ‘Watching Our Weight Could Be Killing Us.’ Here they discussed the idea of letting go of diet culture demanding a measure of courage. At the end of the day, if you have always controlled how much you eat, what you eat and punished yourself with exercise, it is going to be a difficult cycle to break.
They discuss that weight stigma can be brutal and affect all areas of life from work, travel, relationships and more. However, constantly putting life off until you’re in a ‘smaller body’ is not healthy. And making people feel like they need to be smaller in order to be successful is mentally damaging. Often times the pressure leads to weight gain rather than weight loss!
Wired said: “Another important component of freeing oneself from diet mentality is, like it or not, Instagram. It seems that skipping the notorious thinspiration accounts, which show skeletal bodies to inspire dieters, and instead of following feeds that show portraits and selfies of people in bigger bodies opens the eyes.”
Has Anti-diet Culture Gone too Far?
Some people feel as though the anti-diet culture has gone too far. As with any movement (take feminism as an example) The Post Millenial feel as though some anti-diet campaigners take it too far to the extreme.
They said: “Perhaps most glaringly, the tendency of activists to vacillate between extremes is on display in the “body positivity” movement, which has, in a visceral reaction to the real problem of cruelty toward overweight people, thrown itself headfirst into science-denial and the glorification of unhealthiness.”
They went on to say: “Of course, these activists are clearly coming from a good place: No one, especially women, should be shamed or insulted for their body and their weight. And, in particular, sometimes certain gimmick ‘diets’ can be unhealthy or even dangerous. But obesity is still unhealthy, and these activists have crossed the line from “body positivity” to promoting unhealthiness and flouting basic health science.”
Finding a Healthy Balance
As with anything, at SOCIALight we feel it is a case of finding a healthy balance. We feel as though it is important to acknowledge that there are different body sizes and types. We’re not all made to be a certain size or weight and the pressure from some media outlets, clothing companies, brands, and businesses is duly unfair to those living in bigger bodies.
The pressure we see on women day to day to snap back to pre-baby weight, to be stick thin for their wedding day, to make sure they remain ‘aesthetically pleasing’ to keep their partner interested and more is sickening. The anti-diet culture, just like many movements before it is about releasing people from that grip and helping them embrace themselves and feel confident in their skin.
People should be able to LIVE. Enjoy what they enjoy and have the freedom to be whoever they want to be (as long as it does not negatively impact on someone else!)
There will be people that take it to the extreme, and perhaps there will be unhealthy outcomes from some groups that embrace the anti-diet movement, but that’s no different to the sliding scale of people on the other end of the spectrum.
We feel as though this movement is much more about learning to love yourself, and relinquishing the societal pressure of being someone or something that you are not. It is about building a community of acceptance, motivation, and love. And we don’t see anything wrong with that.
Read more in the latest issue of SOCIALight magazine about the rise of anti-diet culture.