By Samantha Anthony
As I’ve grown, I have begun to understand that beauty does not have just one physical form; however, any woman can sympathize with my struggle to resist diet culture and toxic beauty standards, especially during the holiday season. For many of us, the word “skinny” has become synonymous with “better.” Corporations want this, because diet culture is extremely profitable. The U.S. weight loss market is worth $66 billion and is projected to grow even more, according to a 2017 study conducted by Market Research.
In an effort to preserve self-love, some women have made a vow to give up diets entirely: in her article about the negative impacts of succumbing to diet culture, Samantha Mann writes about how she has noticed the ways women talk about their health. “I still accidentally tell women they look skinny as an automatic compliment,” she says. “It feels nice to make other people light up, and nothing does it as quickly as telling a woman she looks thin. Most people want to make their friends feel confident and happy, but we have to find better ways of doing it.”
It is especially important that we avoid thinking about food in a toxic way, because the holidays celebrate food in a way that is troubling for some of us. In “Diet Christmas: when did the holiday season become a time for disordered eating?”, Deirdre Fidge notes, “For those of us staying home over the festive period, food is a huge part of celebrations. It can mean connecting with our own family by making a specific dish, or passing down traditions of our own.” Fidge continues, “If we allow ourselves to be consumed by diet culture, we run the risk of missing out on these meaningful moments around us, and of the pure joy in celebrating with others. We also, of course, may find ourselves with an unhealthy obsession.”
This holiday season, I plan on following the words of these wise women and avoiding conversations about dieting, or complimenting my friends on their weight. This contributes to the idea that our value is rooted in our appearance, which isn’t true: instead, we should be recognizing the beauty in others that cannot be tied to a number. (It doesn’t hurt that the easiest way to combat diet culture is to eat what I like during the holidays.)