F*ck Diet Culture — Love Your Body

by Colleen Dilthey Thomas
Originally Published: 

You see it everywhere. “Wanna drop that extra COVID 19?” “Contact me to get your best summer body.” “Join our gym now for zero enrollment fees!” Who else is sick of this shit? Yeah, I may have gained a few pounds over the last year, but I don’t need to be reminded every 30 seconds. When I think about the weight I gained, I think about being locked in my house with four kids for a year. We spent a lot of time as a family, which included baking delicious sweets and cooking fantastic meals. And you know what? I don’t give a shit about what it has done to my body. I am happy to be alive.

I cannot tell you how many commercials I see daily on TV promoting diets and plans and shakes and pills. It is mind-numbing. Women are not encouraged to embrace their curves, stretch marks and dimples. Instead, we are being conditioned to hate our bodies. The diet culture that has developed over the years is scary. Recent data shows that 49% of Americans were on some sort of diet. Of those surveyed, 56% of women admitted to dieting. Those numbers are huge. And why? Because diet culture says that thinner is better. You are only beautiful if your body fits into a very specific, smaller mold. It is so distorted and so wrong.

Every day we’re inundated with images of gorgeous people who set unattainable goals of what we should look like. We are living in a world that is so image obsessed that being a regular mom, whose body has completely transformed to carry children, is unacceptable. It’s like there is something intrinsically wrong with flabby arms or a belly. These perfect bodies that we see are not, in fact, perfect. They are manipulated with Photoshop and filters. The second that one of these perfect people has an unedited image leaked, they are doing serious damage control to make it go away. And why? It is because they too are obsessed with their own bodies. They are comparing themselves to an unattainable goal, and it trickles down to everyone who sees their photos on social media. The cycle is vicious.

When are we going to learn and become comfortable with the fact that everyone’s body is beautiful? Our bodies serve a purpose. They carry children and nourish babies. They lift heavy grocery bags and prepare meals for our families. Our bodies are not made to be perfect; they are made to be useful. But our culture has lost sight of that. Instead, we are on a quest to be better every single day. It is exhausting.

And you know what, it is really fucking unfair. Why can’t we just be happy how we are? Why do we have to be what is deemed better? Will you really find happiness in a bigger bra and smaller pants? Does happiness only come in a size 0? Can you still be a good mom and have your kids love you if you’re a 16? Yeah, you sure can. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Yet, according to Boston Medical Center, “An estimated 45 million Americans go on a diet each year, and Americans spend $33 billion each year on weight loss products.” Yes, billions! And you’re talking everything from gym memberships to gimmicky waist-slimming devices to pills and teas that will literally give you diarrhea. Americans are positively obsessed with being something that they are not. And every day, it gets worse.

Diet culture — this way of thinking that values thinness and a small body over health and wellness — is killing us. Even though you may be perfectly well with a little meat on your bones, you aren’t supposed to be satisfied. It is better to be ill and thin than to have a fluffier figure. You are supposed to want to fit into the smaller pants. You are supposed to choose the light salad dressing. It is your responsibility to count calories and restrict yourself. That is how diet culture wants you to live. And you know what? In one way or another, you probably are.

Eating disorders are on the rise. During the COVID 19 pandemic, eating disorders have surged. As reported in the New York Times, “The National Eating Disorders Association reported a 41% increase in messages to its telephone and online help lines in January 2021 compared with January 2020.” This is due in part to people spending more time alone, being depressed, and social media demonizing pandemic eating. Social media making fun of people for gaining weight in quarantine triggers people who genuinely struggle daily to eat and stay healthy. It’s so disheartening.

So what do you do? Don’t let yourself fall into the diet culture trap. Don’t lament your weight gain on Facebook. Don’t scroll Instagram for hours looking at weight loss before and after pics. Remember, there is no miracle diet. No one is going to drop 20 pounds a week in a healthy way. A pill isn’t going to make you perfect. Honestly, you’ll probably feel just as bad or worse, because you’ll still be chasing the brass ring. Instead, flaunt what you’ve got. Body positivity is sexy. Know that you are beautiful every day.

We are coming out of a global pandemic. There has been insurmountable loss in the last year. Many of us have family members and friends who did not survive COVID-19. Our world will never be the same. But if you’re still here, you should be celebrating. You may be a different looking you a year later, but who gives a shit! Rock your body. Enjoy your summer in shorts and a swimsuit. Have fun with your kids. Kiss your significant other in the sunshine. Be grateful! There are so many things worse than a few extra pounds.

If you want to lose it, do it in a healthy way. But if you don’t, who fucking cares? You don’t need to lose weight for anyone. You get one chance at life. Live it in a body that you love.

This article was originally published on