Goodbye Skinny Legend, Hello Chunky Legend: My Beef With Diet Culture
I, like millions of others, have felt the pressure to become a “skinny legend.” Eat keto, don’t eat eggs, do eat eggs, no– don’t eat eggs again, the Kayla Itsines workout, paleo, whole 30, juice cleanses, military diet, the Victoria's Secret model diet — the list goes on. Women in the U.S. have felt the pressure to keep the lbs down and, even in an increasingly feminist society, diet culture still seems to persist. In the U.S., the weight loss industry is worth 72 billion dollars and continues to grow. Making women feel like their bodies are wrong, or ugly, or too big serves to benefit those industries. Sure, the occasional cleanse or detox might be beneficial, but overall, diet culture is pretty damn toxic.
The United States, like many other countries, has a sexist history. Women have historically been marginalized and even though we still have more work to do, this is the most equality there has ever been. There have always been expectations for women to be small, delicate, and graceful. The narrative is familiar: women aren’t funny, women are too emotional, women can't do that — that’s a man’s job, and women shouldn’t take up too much space. With increasing tolerance and equality in our society, these expectations are starting to disappear, but diet culture still persists. Women still feel like they should take up as little space as possible. It may be hard to learn to love the stomach rolls or the stretch marks or not compare your body to Kendall Jenner’s, but don’t fall prey to the ploys of the diet industry. The weight loss industry wants to keep women feeling incorrect and imperfect; if women are too busy thinking about their thighs, they won’t have time to fight the wage gap, right?
So does dieting even work? The answer is bleak. A 2007 study done by UCLA found that "sustained weight loss was found only in a small minority of participants, while complete weight regain was found in the majority. Diets do not lead to sustained weight loss or health benefits for the majority of people." So even if you do lose some weight on a diet, the chances that you gain the weight back are high. These pre-fixed meal diets like Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, or Weight Watchers are designed to give you results fast, but as soon as you go off the diet, the pounds come back, and you throw more money at them.
It’s time to embrace the chunky legend. Flaunt the curves and own your space! You deserve it! I’m not saying that eating healthy is bad — by all means, eat healthy! But also, eat that slice of cake that you'd cut your finger off for. Break away from this societal pressure to be small and take up as little space as possible. Everything in moderation. Eat the cake, love your body, and, while we’re talking about societal expectations, fuck the patriarchy!