Diet Culture: We Are At A (Fat) Crossroads

Everyone knows about the horror of yo-yo dieting and fad diets and most people have been on diets for years, on and off. Even BMI, the holy grail of “health” vs “weight” used by the NHS, was really designed in the 19th century only to measure statistical averages in the population, and people are starting to doubt its usefulness for individuals.  Meanwhile, Weight Watchers still has a turnover of $267.4 million a year, despite being a treadmill that’s almost impossible to stay on…

diet culture
So where are we really at?

Let me paint you a picture of how confused and conflicted our society is becoming about the F-Word (…fat!), diets and beauty.

Research suggests that up to 50% of the population (US) take part in disordered eating, whilst only 1-3% are diagnosed with eating disorders. Not surprisingly, as being fat is rated as more horrifying than cancer by school aged girls in the US. In response, Barbie becomes fat, tall, and short to try and move with the times and promote positive body image.


barbie release

Meanwhile, in the “adult” world, models are shamed for their stick figure looks, or for being plus-sized, in the name of their health. Size 12 women are hired as plus-sized models, and supermodels are told both that they are too fat and too thin in the same day. Misogynists become the most honest people in the game, using PhotoShop to shrink down plus-sized models and undermine their body positive messages.

A size 14 Meghan Trainor insults thin women and uplifts everyone else with her rallying body positive anthem “All About That Bass”...or does she?

all-about-bass thin

An advert for protein powder promoting weight-loss sparks feminist backlash, then adverts for junk food become the enemy of the state, as London’s mayor proposes a ban on tube “junkfood” advertising.


People are terrified of looking bad whilst exercising, so campaigns are launched specifically to break down that fear. The nation’s favourite meal is the classic roast dinner (nearly 700 calories), in a world that is increasingly designed for (sedentary) work and sitting down. Yet in the midst of it all, health advice about different food “baddies” and food solutions remains as stable as a drunken giraffe, and starts to look like a joke…

So where do we go from here?

Do we go with the body positive, lazy and weak turncoats who have rejected all hope of finally becoming thin? Do we instead side with the Instagram gurus and fitness advisors and hope that this time, we will finally be strong enough and informed enough to get the body and the health that we deserve?

It’s not an easy question to answer. Which is why I am splitting my answer into more parts! Come back next week, when I’m going to explore the mechanisms of the diet and beauty industry from both angles, covering both a history and where we are today with our opposing clans.



In the meantime, thank you for reading, and consider subscribing to my email list or following me here on WordPress or on Facebook. Thank you!

Reading List aka The Links That You Should Actually Read Though:


Barbie’s New Look:

Size 12 Women used as Plus Sized Models:

The Protein World Ad:

Living in a sit-down world:




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