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I Can Be Heavy and Healthy: Diet Culture on Social Media

by Ashley Kwok

You’ve seen the posts: Kylie Jenner and her ‘detox teas’; Gorgeous, hunky-dory models made of just three percent body fat posing with their salads; Cheap, ‘how to lose weight FAST’ guides on your Explore Page. And then you wonder, “Why am I so unsatisfied with my body?”

There was a period in which influencers would post-diet fads: gummy bears, teas, lollipops, supplements, etc. They would hold up their endorsed product and champion its miracle effects despite never once consuming that product themselves.

These diet fads perpetuated a weight-loss culture, but they didn’t help you lose weight. They were simply laxatives and appetite suppressants.

‘Diet Culture’, the idea that being skinny equates to being healthy, is ingrained into every community. Social media platforms like Instagram and Tumblr only create a bigger echo chamber for diet culture to breed and fester. It’s why we all want to lose weight.

We might congratulate a skinny, malnourished person who eats nothing but fast food and pizza, but we fat-shame a heavier person who is at their natural weight and has a balanced diet.

The truth is, you can be “attractive looking” by societal standards and still be malnourished. You can have abs and rock Chris Evans’ Dorito bod, but still feel miserable, cold, and constantly hungry.

Nicola Rinaldi, author of ‘No Period. Now What?’ with a Ph.D. in computational biology, says, “The idea of healthy equals a look is really problematic. To me, healthy equals to functioning well.”

And that can be at a wide range of sizes, shapes, and looks.

Stephanie Buttermore, a fitness guru on Youtube with a previously insatiable hunger, recently embarked on a journey to fix her relationship with food. Though her body used to fit society’s standards of ‘aesthetically pleasing’, she felt easily irritable and an immense amount of pressure. The sacrifice Stephanie’s body had made for ‘fitness aesthetics’ resulted in brittle hair and nails, lethargy, and even a loss in menstruation for more than three months.

She decided to go ‘all in’, meaning that now she eats to satiety every day. A year of weight gain later, she is finally happy and healthy.

She’s heavier, but she’s at her healthiest.


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