‘Diet culture managed to manipulate my my tongue, my mouth, stomach and mind. I didn’t even realise’
*TRIGGER WARNING AND CONTENT WARNING – This opinion piece includes discussion of eating disorders and weight loss on apps such as TikTok.*
“Stick it down your throat, I’m watching from the bathroom, making sure I don’t choke.” – Orange Juice, Melanie Martinez
This is fine, this is normal.
“I can’t eat that, I’m eating healthy.”
“I can’t eat today, I haven’t earned it.”
“I can only eat foods I love on my cheat day.”
Have you heard it? Said it? Thought it?
And I kept thinking I’m fine – this is normal, please just believe me, I can’t eat that, I can’t eat that, I’m like anyone else, ask them, they think the same thing, I swear, I promise, I even checked my TikTok, and I saw a video of this girl.
Talking about it now, it sounds like the start of some shit joke.
“Doctor: You have tested positive for Coronavirus, you may lose a lot of weight…”
“Me: but *emoji* skinny *emoji*.”
I began to blast the base of my stomach, adamant to take the scissors to it.
“broooo I’ve just learnt that slight bump at the bottom of girls’ stomachs is our literal uterus?? I feel like this should be taught more in school bc I literally almost killed myself trying to get rid of my f***** UTERUS???”
I didn’t know that I needed to protect that part of me. I never knew that if I stopped eating, worked out for three hours a day, I could develop ovarian cysts. I could erode my teeth. I could make my heart just
Stop, wait, but I was falling. Yeah, I was climbing metal stairs and I fell. Wait, no, I fainted. I fainted. Thin skin ripped when I bounced on the floor.
But, no, honestly, I can’t be starving, my stomach lining can’t be eating itself, because I saw another TikTok video, of another girl. I did!
“Me telling myself: From today I’m gonna starve a little cause I wanna get SKINNY!!!”
This is called diet culture.
I know you’ve heard it. I know you see it happen. According to Isa Robinson Nutrition, diet culture can be defined as ‘valuing thinness,’ putting a, ‘socially constructed ideal of beauty above our health and wellness.’
And if you are reading this, if you are to take anything away from this piece, may it be this.
Please eat. Please don’t let the normalisation of eating disorders on social media harm you like it is harming 1.25 million people in the UK.
Diet culture managed to manipulate my tongue, my mouth, stomach and mind. I didn’t even realise. Have you?
Only now, do I notice the language of diet culture seeping into the sides of our society, and the stitches holding in Pro-Ana (pro-anorexia) communities are busting. Social media is playing a dangerous role in the survival of these communities.
I can scroll for miles and miles. I read the comment sections of TikTok’s of dancing girls and I can’t help but to think what this platform is doing to the precious parts of people – damaging the outlook that food is fuel. That being skinny is scintillating.
“I was going to eat today, but now I’m not,” or, “I wish I was that skinny – I breathe air and I’m fat.”
I could be out for a meal and a friend would tell me, “I can’t stand next to you, you’re too skinny.” I could even listen to ‘Prom Queen’ by Beach Bunny and hear, “Shut up, count your calories.” This is the diet culture language we intake daily. Did you recognise it?
I remember watching Skins Gen 1, watching how Cassie would give tips on how to eat without actually eating. I remember watching Netflix’s ‘Dare Me,’ where in episode 2, the ‘chew-and-spit’ sign of disordered eating was shown voicelessly onscreen. And it made me think, wait. Wait, other people are thinking this?
YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN YOUR WEIGHT. YOU ARE WORTH THREE MEALS A DAY. YOU ARE WORTH SNACKS. YOU ARE WORTH MEALS OUT WITH FRIENDS. YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN ENOUGH TO ENJOY YOUR FAVOURITE FOODS IN LIFE.
Food is our main energy source which helps us live the days we are blessed with.
Communities such as ‘#eatingdisorderrecovery’ on Instagram, focus on the side of those struggling with eating disorders – forever acknowledging that disorders are not dependent on weight, but on how they can attack mental wellbeing into villainising food enough to forget that carbohydrates are but the main source of energy, to fuel our brain, kidneys, nervous system.
Diet culture cons us into believing proteins are scary, forgetting they allow the repair of muscles, helping to coordinate bodily functions.
Fruit and vegetables give us fibre, vitamins, minerals. They allow us to be the best versions of ourselves we recognise. They do not will us harm.
The normalisation of eating disorders is one trend which must not be fuelled. We must not allow the perspective of social standards to dictate the strife in life which we strive so to be successful in.
We are worth eating birthday cake with those we love the most. I promise this is safe. I promise it won’t hurt you. You will be safe in trusting your body.
I promise that seeking any kind of help can replace these disordered thoughts which have penetrated our health.
In the meantime, what we can do for those struggling is reinstate that no matter the body type we have been blessed with, it is ours to protect. To keep safe. The women, who have ovaries to protect, rivers of blood to nourish. The men, who have throbbing hearts to defend, tangles of nervous systems to nurture, puzzles of organs to feed.
I have miles and miles of skin sown in silk, seeking to hold the person I love.
It is so important not to let diet culture win. It is so important to allow ourselves the foods we love. To bless our bodies with a break, because all that frame does is give.
We are deserving, and so are you.
If you would like to find support and learn more about eating disorders and self- positivity, please visit https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/
If you are looking for help, please reach out.