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…

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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.

 

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From www.app.com

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?

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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.

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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.

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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:

On BMI: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/bmi-stop-measuring-weight-height-health-measure-fitness-fat-a7894951.html

Barbie’s New Look: http://time.com/barbie-new-body-cover-story/

Size 12 Women used as Plus Sized Models: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2835253/How-plus-size-models-really-skinny-girls-padding-size-12-size-16-three-easy-steps.html

The Protein World Ad: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/are-you-beach-body-ready-protein-world-backlash-grows-as-thousands-sign-petition-calling-for-removal-10204601.html

Living in a sit-down world: http://www.raptitude.com/2015/01/why-we-spend-our-lives-sitting/

 

 

 

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9 Pieces of Commie Propaganda for the “Invisible” Job Seeker Like You

Disclaimer: This actually isn’t very communist, but it is pretty grumbly, so you can use it to rile yourself up about the mistreatment of the unwashed masses, if you are that way inclined and have the energy for that kind of thing.

What I wanted to write about is about all the ways the job search and the job market is annoying, as it appears to me as a 20-something almost-nobody who ~kinda~ knows what they want and has had ~some~ jobs, who isn’t the 30 year old Forbes-reading  frustrated professional who desperately wants to make it in the world of sales who seems to exist in all job help blogs ever. Continue reading “9 Pieces of Commie Propaganda for the “Invisible” Job Seeker Like You”

Why We Should Really Hate Spending

My personal favourite new habit since becoming a financially independent adult (at long last!) is drawing up budgets and calculating savings plans. Working out how much I utterly have to spend, on food, travel to work, and on rent. Working how much I’ll save, and balancing that with how much I’ll allow myself to spend.  It’s quite hard to describe the fascination I have with just writing out the numbers and adding them up; I find myself bugging friends and family to let me know their monthly expenditure, their monthly income, how much they could SAVE.

But I’m not as smug as you might think I sound. I know that spending is important to quality of life. Reading this article on why Your Latte Isn’t Why You’re In Debt felt like a personal attack on my budgeting method and general worldview, even though I am utterly the first to defend your right to buy something entirely fun and frivolous and joy-making, no matter what your income is. And that’s not a contradictory statement.

Spenders vs Savers (vs Misers vs Feckless)

In the language of money that we use every day, we have a generic image that spending is desirable, and saving is hard. We all personally know people who spend too much, and people who hate to spend anything above their budget. Sophie Kinsella’s “Confessions of A Shopaholic” is a book that perfectly encapsulates our simulatenous fascination and revulsion with extravagent and frivous spending; we hate it, but damn it do we love pretty nice new things!

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Retail Therapy vs Escaping Properly

David Cain explains this irony to utmost perfection in his blog post “Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed”. Essentially (and it is utterly worth a read, any summary I can write is far from an adequate substitute!) we spend money to make ourselves happy and relieve the stress of work, which we do in order to earn money, in order to spend it, in order to cope with working, etcetera. Whilst writing this blog post I realised that this is a major factor in my personal spending, but there’s far more to this than “and you too can save tonnes of money!”.

See the irony is that to save money, we first have to not emotionally depend on it. Which is harder when it looks when society can so easily be built on endless consumption, but also far more necessary than we might realise when dependance on material goods, instead of something like meaningful human connections and kindness is at the centre of our worldwide philosophy. Our understanding of saving as a “neccessary evil that no one really does” is a shallow substitute for the real route of money-related misery, because the real solution is so completely different and conflicting with consumerism.

Spending Money Is A Political Act

Without our endless earning and spending cycle, the world would be a better place for the environment and people who can live directly from it. But that’s probably not going to happen, and if it did, it would be a terrible waste. We have technology to make amazing things, it only becomes a problem when we let go of our lives in order to make them, and sacrifice the worlds resources and our humanity for them. The more that we rely on external material sources of happiness alone however, the less joy we get from them; it’s basic diminishing marginal returns. Millionaires, billionaires and trillionaires aren’t that many magnitudes happier than any other person who can afford basic healthcare, shelter and food.

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But it is billionaires and the owners of capital who we make richer every day when we spend money. On anything.

With this in mind, spending becomes a political act. Not in the sense of boycotting specific companies or brands (though that’s totally a topic for another day), but in the sense of limiting our interaction with capitalism AS A WHOLE. Yeah, I need to buy tights occassionally, but I’m not going to be happy about it, because I know what that represents and what it means for the wider world as a whole.

 

Watch out for Part 2, where I’ll explore several alternatives to our current material lifestyles ^_^


Related Links and Sources: http://www.raptitude.com/2010/07/your-lifestyle-has-already-been-designed/
http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-5-stupidest-habits-you-develop-growing-up-poor/
http://www.theguardian.com/money/2010/nov/20/what-people-earn
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/11/lost-hands-making-flatscreens-no-help

(Some of these will make their way into posts of their own eventually.)