For almost my entire life, I’ve been dreaming of shrinking myself. I learned very early on that women should want to be thin, and they should do whatever it takes to keep their bodies small – something I now realise is a dangerous lie. Whether it was reading about Jennifer Aniston’s Atkins diet decades ago, or hearing from my mother and grandmother about how they survived on popcorn and watermelon for weeks in the ’80s, I’ve simply always been aware of diets. They’ve always been there; in pop culture, on the news, at the family dinner table, in the school playground. I’ve wasted countless hours of my life planning my food intake, moralising my meals and monitoring my calorie intake. I’ve expended so much energy, wondering what the world would look like, if I were just a little lighter, a little narrower, a little smaller. It’s been exhausting.
I didn’t conjure these habits out of nowhere. As legendary psychotherapist Susie Orbach argued in her seminal book, Fat Is a Feminist Issue, our relationship with food is powerfully informed by patriarchal values. Weight has become an inherently moral issue, where really it shouldn’t be. We make moral judgments about people based on the circumference of their bellies and the size of their thighs. I have been doing it my whole life, every time I look in a mirror, and it is agony. Keeping women obsessed with their size is a cunning distraction, stopping us from putting all our energy into fighting for what matters. The diet industry is a lucrative, pervasive, dangerously successful empire – one that truly deserves our diligent, even angry criticism.
You’ve hit the glass ceiling. And our paywall.
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