veritas exquirere

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Go on a diet from our diet culture

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In a world that brims with spray-tanned abs, Photoshopped thigh gaps and face-tuned skin, there’s no wonder why our society is so obsessed with looking perfect.

Unfortunately, something that seems to define perfection — especially in American culture — is weight, or the lack thereof. The larger one appears, the more pressure on that individual to drop all of her “excess” pounds by going on whatever fad diet is most popular each week.

As a society, we’ve attached a negative connotation to the word “fat.” If you’re considered fat, your entire character is suddenly reduced to that single part of your appearance. You can no longer be fat and something else; your most important trait is your apparent fatness.

An industry that makes its money off of the insecurities of a vulnerable public is booming at the moment. And if reading that makes you feel any anger or fear, then you stand beside me and countless others in the pushback against these harmful, self-serving companies.”

Rhetoric like this has become so popular nowadays that we tend to forget that it’s wrong. But so far, it’s allowed the diet industry to thrive. An industry that makes its money off of the insecurities of a vulnerable public is booming at the moment. And if reading that makes you feel any anger or fear, then you stand beside me and countless others in the pushback against these harmful, self-serving companies.

Whether or not we realize it, this culture has impressed itself upon us since childhood: According to Mirasol, 80 percent of children of all genders will have been on at least one diet by fourth grade, and 4.5 to 18 percent of women and 0.4 percent of men will have suffered from an eating disorder by their first year of college.

But the consequences of diet culture don’t end there. Body dysmorphia — perpetual dissatisfaction with one’s appearance, to the extent that one cannot perceive his appearance accurately — is yet another mental illness that can form once confronted by the pressure to be “flawless,” and can lead to the aforementioned eating disorders.

Even people who overcome these disease don’t always get to walk away free. Many anorexia survivors end up with damage to their heart, kidney and liver. Women can even become infertile. Bulimia survivors are also prone to the same long term effects, on top of the probable damage done to their throat, stomach and teeth from constant vomiting.

It’s these serious consequences that are waking people up and helping form a resistance to our society’s diet culture. As part of a pushback, a body positive or “bopo” community has formed. Men and women across the globe are using social media platforms to combat the ideals that have affected them and countless others their whole lives. The message they spread is simple and meant for all: No matter your weight, you’re allowed to feel confident.

Of course, there is a backlash to this community. People like to claim that these accounts are encouraging an unhealthy lifestyle. The fact of the matter is, your weight isn’t necessarily an overall indicator of your body’s health. It probably sounds strange because the diet industry has brainwashed us to believe otherwise, but it’s true. Health may just look different on different people, and we have to reteach ourselves that that is okay.

The diet culture we exist in has been around for a long time. However, I choose to have faith that our generation could help change the attitude that dominates our society. By encouraging a world driven by body positivity instead of one driven by dieting and shaming, we could potentially see less people affected by eating disorders and plagued with the fear of not being good enough.

That world is possible, but to see it we must band together and resist.

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