The phrase “I’m on a diet” seems to pop out of everyone’s mouth these days just as much as “I love Succession” or “things are going to calm down next week”. Like most people in the 21st century, I have been conditioned by diet companies, fashion brands, and the beauty industry to accept that only deathly skinniness achieved through starvation is beautiful, and if I show a hint of a curve more than Kate Moss, I’m essentially worthless. If I had a dollar for every time a PR showed up in my inbox, promoting a new weight loss product or service, I’d be taking a few more holidays!
Their words fall on deaf ears, though, because I’m no longer buying into diet culture after years of consistent effort. Worth and weight are no longer synonymous for me. And my attitude isn’t the only one changing. Body dysmorphic disorder affects approximately seven million people in the United States and the prevalence of these negative attitudes towards our bodies has created some much-needed push-back. One of those is an event that is coming up pretty soon: International No Diet Day.
Celebrating International Diet Day
International No Diet Day falls on 6 May and is a direct response to the crushing burden of having to deal with ‘diet culture’ in our society. ‘Eating healthy’ and ‘losing weight’ are virtually synonyms in popular culture, but there is a big difference between dieting and eating healthily. Weight loss comes in moderation, and you can still be healthy and fit without necessarily looking like a skeleton. Dieting, however, can become a toxic, doomed spiral of negative emotions.
It has taken me thirty years to accept my body, and I do, but I still go through some periods of being critical. That’s why these kinds of events are a boon to people who are ashamed of their bodies. Days like No Diet Day promote an alternative – a way of life where our worth is not intrinsically linked to the size of our jeans. Yes, it would be better to have a No-Diet Week, No Diet Month, or (just imagine) a No-Diet Year, where we don’t get bombarded with messages about losing weight as a new year resolution, or shredding for summer, or not packing on those winter pounds.
I think we feel so hyper-critical of our bodies because we often never saw different shapes or sizes in the media we consume – everyone on television, in movies, or modeling in advertisements is slim and gorgeous. It has only been recently with the rise of bigger-bodied public figures and concerted efforts to start advertising campaigns with different body shapes has the attitude slowly started to shift. It’s a slow change, but a welcome one.
So, this International No Diet Day, eat whatever the hell you want. Eat a full pie in one sitting. Indulge in a delicious soup. Eat some fruit. But whatever you do, don’t let the weight of other people’s expectations dictate what you eat on 6 May. And just maybe, you could take that ethos into all the other days of the year too. The word ‘diet’ literally has ‘die’ in it. Live a little instead.