Come January 1st, The New Year’s Diet Culture Shitstorm begins. New year, new you! We’ve all heard that one before. Resolutions are centered around improving ourselves, but is dieting really going to make you a better person?
The beginning of every year is when our diet culture hits us like a shitstorm, via resolutions. No matter where you turn – newspapers, magazines, blogs, social media, grocery stores – it’s all centered around diets, healthy food, and losing weight. On top of that, you’ve got your social circle and family where there’s bound to be a handful of people who have succumbed to the “new year, new you” bandwagon and just love to talk about their new amazing diet and how much weight they’ve lost already. It’s information we’ve not asked to hear, but that will be shared regardless.
This week, I was shocked to see the new year’s diet culture shitstorm coming from a source I considered to be a “safe space” – body positivity activist, National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) spokesperson, and model Iskra Lawrence posted a “New Years Challenge” on her Instagram page. The 4 week challenge in collaboration with Self Magazine includes a schedule for working out 5 days a week and a “healthy meal plan” (aka a restrictive diet that suggests low calorie and low carb meals).
Iskra’s “New Years Challenge” post made a lot of her followers upset, and rightfully so. With over 2.9 million followers on Instagram, many of which look to her for inspiration and strength through their recovery from eating disorders, it’s a slap in the face to them that someone who is considered a role model for loving your body (regardless of shape, weight, or size) would promote a diet and exercise regime. Many left comments pointing out to Iskra how triggering her challenge is, and that it had no place coming from someone who is a NEDA spokesperson. Several of the comments not in favour of the challenge were deleted and once things really took off and hundreds of comments were left from disappointed followers, the option to comment was turned off and all comments were deleted completely. About 24 hours later, Iskra removed her Instagram post, however the challenge is still up on Self Magazine’s website. Iskra has not issued any kind of explanation or apology for the post. She replied to a few comments saying her followers were jumping to conclusions or misunderstanding her intentions. I beg to differ, a diet is a diet.
The post from Iskra brought to light what is so easily forgotten in our culture of dieting and constantly being under pressure to achieve the “perfect body”. It’s all about money. These magazine articles, diets, low fat products, and new years challenges in collaboration with health magazines are just earning people money, that is all. They will not improve your life, they are not written by any kind of expert who knows anything about your body and its needs. They just want to sell magazines, articles, products, and make money. And they don’t care how much you suffer for it.
I myself have been a victim of the new years diet culture shitstorm many times. Even on years when I’ve told myself that I’m not going to set new year’s resolutions revolving around dieting, exercising or trying to morph my body into perfection, I’ve found myself plotting exactly those things at the beginning of January each year anyway. It’s an almost subconscious thing, which is the result of being brainwashed by diet culture for weeks on end until you actually start to feel excited about dieting. That’s why it’s so dangerous when stuff like this comes from people who are supposed to be saving us from this kind of talk. People like Iskra who are a role model for body positivity and anti-dieting.
I’ve got an upcoming post about my intentions and wishes for 2017, and I can assure you that there is nothing remotely involving dieting on my list this year, regardless of what the new year’s diet culture shitstorm, or anyone else, says.
P.S If you want some truly inspiring and body positive heroes to follow on Instagram check out the amazing girls I’ve listed under Resources – Positive Role Models in Social Media
Thanks to the many people who spoke up about how the “New Years Challenge” from Iskra and Self Magazine made them feel, the diet plan has been removed! Both Iskra and Self Magazine have adressed the issue. Never hesitate to speak up about something that is making you feel uncomfortable, triggered, or upset. By speaking up about this, we effected change!