Photo by Cindy Cui / Photo Editor

By Ember, Contributor

cw: fatphobia, disordered eating

Food is what fuels our bodies. So why is it that there is an ever increasing rise of popularity in dieting and diet culture? A movement that encourages us to deprive ourselves; to aspire to be thin. To put it plainly? A hatred for fat bodies that results in widespread disordered eating.

The way we frame different topics and discussions is very important. This especially applies to the way we talk about food, our bodies and other people’s bodies.

Caloric science is based on outdated Western scientific methods from the nineteenth century by Wilbur Atwater. It is the estimate of how much energy is contained in a portion of food by burning it in a tank submerged in water, and measuring how much burning the food increased the temperature of the surrounding water.

However, it is hard to accurately predict the energy stored in food; our bodies do not work as simply as a furnace burning fuel. There are many factors that influence the calories of the foods we eat, like how the food is prepared, if cellulose is present and how much energy it takes to digest the food.

Not to mention, there are additional factors that affect digestion, such as metabolism, age, gut bacteria and physical activity. Labels on food do not accurately represent what we’re putting into our body nor what we’re getting out of it.

Ever since Canada enforced the Healthy Menu Choices Act back in 2016, which requires food establishments to list the amount of calories in their products, there has also been an increasing number of discussions surrounding the negative impact of the addition of calories to menus.

Another measurement that is often used to determine how healthy we are is body mass index, even though it is an inaccurate measurement of “health” for multiple reasons. It was meant to analyze the weight of populations, not individuals, and doesn’t take into account whether mass is fat or muscle. As a result, BMI is a biased and harmful method to gauge health.

Along with measurements like calories and BMI, language surrounding food can also be dangerous. You may hear things like “carbs are bad”, or you may hear discourse on “healthy” versus “unhealthy” foods, “cheat days” and “clean eating”, to name some examples. This language can contribute to the notion that we should feel bad for eating food, when it simply is a way to nourish ourselves and additionally, something to enjoy.

Diet culture is so pervasive and present in society. It is encouraged by menus listing calorie amounts, peers, elders and healthcare professionals in various ways. Thoughts like “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” stem from conflating “health” and “weight”, which has roots in racism, classism and fatphobia.

Diet culture is so pervasive and present in society. It is encouraged by menus listing calorie amounts, peers, elders and healthcare professionals in various ways. Thoughts like “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” stem from conflating “health” and “weight”, which has roots in racism, classism and fatphobia.

Hannah Meier, a dietitian who contributed to a project tackling women’s health, writes about how society glorifies dieting. In Meier’s article titled A Dietitian’s Truth: Diet Culture Leads to Disordered Eating she writes, “I was half-functioning. I remember filling pages of journals with promises to myself that I wouldn’t eat. I planned out my week of arbitrary calorie restrictions that were shockingly low and wrote them all over my planner, my whiteboard, the foggy mirror in the bathroom.” 

For many of us, the mindset of diet culture swallows you whole, consumes your every thought and waking moment, then spits you out like rotten food.

Oftentimes, people aren’t advocating for diets because they want to be “healthy”. Instead, they often feel passionate about dieting because of their hate and disdain for fat people since they associate being “fat” with “unhealthy”, “unhappy” or “unlovable”.

It’s also important to note that views on fatness and fat bodies change depending on the time period and culture; renaissance paintings often depict fat women in angelic and celestial aesthetics. As well, certain cultures, both past and present, value fatness as a symbol of privilege, power, wealth and fertility.

Diet culture, eating disorders, and fatphobia are so tightly knit together that they are like an ill-fitting sweater woven by your grandmother that you didn’t want or ask for. Sometimes you think about wearing it, to make things easier or simpler. But it won’t. You will only become a shell of your former self; a husk that is barely scraping by.

Any joy derived from depriving yourself is temporary. A scale will weigh how much of you is there, but it won’t weigh how much of you has been lost to an eating disorder. It is a mental illness, a distortion of reality and external factors that influence how you think. You can’t just stop having an eating disorder on a whim.

Calorie counting isn’t healthy, demonizing certain foods isn’t healthy and having preconceived notions about someone’s health based on how their body looks isn’t “just caring about their health.” Stop calling food “unhealthy” or “healthy”, start calling it “nourishing” or “not/less nourishing. Eat food that makes you happy and makes you feel good. Bodies are so many things, including wonderful and complex. You only have one — so treat it with kindness.

 

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Edward Lawlor
The Silhouette

“You need to eat more.”

As a tall, lanky teenager I have heard this one time too many. I have been openly criticized for my weight by peers, co-workers and even teachers. Today, there aren’t many people who would approach their overweight peers, co-workers or students and tell them to “hit the gym,” or “lay off the fries.” So why is it acceptable to tell someone they are not allowed to be thin? It seems that this age of self-love and size acceptance has left out one demographic: skinny people.

Now, before you angrily turn the page and curse the media for trying to tell you that “thin is in,” please read on. I do not represent any media entities. I am a sole person, trying to plead my case. It is no secret that the media often portrays only one body type as being ideal, and in doing so leaves everyone else feeling physically inadequate. In light of this unfair portrayal, many have spoken out against it. However, some have misdirected their dissatisfaction at thin people. One need only search “skinny hate” on the internet to observe this.

Often people who find themselves struggling with their weight will direct their unhappiness towards the thin individual. These same people will even go so far as to say “being thin is unattractive” or “I’d rather have curves than have people see my bones.” While these statements might have the intention to target the media, they in fact do more damage to those who are thin. It seems almost counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? In an attempt to reject the preference of one body type over another, they have done the exact opposite.

Now, I am not oblivious to the sad reality of eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia. They are awful afflictions, which no one should have to suffer through. But, there does exist a third reality: some of us are born thin. Whether it be hyper-active metabolisms, genes or simply fate, there exist humans who eat normally, but find it hard to gain weight. We should not be shamed for our naturally slender physique, the same way no one should be shamed for their naturally full-bodied physique.

Furthermore, the proverbial grass is not much greener here on the thin side of things. There are drawbacks attached to every body type, and ectomorphs are no exception. People often associate a lean figure with weakness, so it may come as no surprise that slender children and teens encounter bullying. I remember being made fun of for my weight (or lack thereof), throughout elementary and high school. Being called scrawny, bony and lanky subtly prompted me to wear long sleeves and pants constantly. I would refuse to leave my home without a sweater on, even in the summer heat for fear of being ridiculed. Shopping for clothes can be almost as discouraging, when pants won’t stay up and every outfit makes you look like a toddler playing dress-up. And being told by others that your gaunt frame is reflective of poor health is always disheartening.

To be clear, I am not scrounging for sympathy by stating the aforementioned facts. If they represent the peak of my bodily setbacks, I should count myself as fortunate. Nonetheless, it should be made known that being thin is not always beneficial.

I am not looking to spark a war against people who are not thin: I only wish to inform. Everyone has at one point had issues with their body, whether they be skinny, portly, lanky, curvy or somewhere in the middle. Truth buy discount cialis be told, there is nothing wrong with being naturally thin – some of us just are. Conversely, there is nothing wrong with being naturally full-bodied either – some of us just are. Keeping this in mind, let us celebrate body types from every point of the spectrum, not just our end.

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