The return of summer sunshine brings a wonderful change in warmer weather but with it, diet culture cashes in on our insecurities surrounding our ‘bikini bodies’. Once the ‘new year, new you’ promotions die down, the industries chase us again with their ‘summer body’ campaigns, pushing us to believe our bodies aren’t fine just the way they are. Today, I want to talk about the internalisation of diet culture norms.
I thought I was getting to grips with my new anti-dieting outlook. I felt powerful knowing I was in control of my food decisions because I was no longer engaging in fad diets. My exercise routine had less ‘I need to’ and more ‘I want to’ and I was accepting that a body is just a body.
As that first day of warm sunshine hit my face, so did the return of body insecurities. I wasn’t expecting it. I thought I had escaped. The heat, as it always does, made my body expand only slightly, but enough to feel my clothes tighten. My recent assignments have kept me sedentary for longer than I would have liked which doesn’t help to relieve the bloating from my study snacks.
For months now, I have disengaged from diet culture. I can’t remember the last time I tried to diet. But despite my best efforts, despite not weighing myself, it appears I have an internalisation of diet culture that can not disappear after a few months of mindful body positivity. Already, I started to think about trying harder to get a flat stomach in time for summer. Once again, I have been shaming myself for eating what I want and ‘letting myself go’. Plans started to form in my mind for ways I could slim down. Go for more runs. Do more HIIT workouts. Eat less. I began to feel like I was losing control. I felt like I was falling down the diet culture rabbit hole.
How I’m coping.
At the moment, all I can do is avoid engaging in restrictive behaviours and embrace the body positive movement. There are plenty of people online who make it their mission to share inspiring images and messages about body shapes of all sizes and abilities. And the thing that makes everything easier is time. Time heals. It’s hard, but I’m persevering without diet culture. Summer will still be amazing without losing weight. I can still wear my bikinis without flat abs. Eating ice-cream is not dependent on whether or not I’ve exercised. All bodies are bikini bodies and a summer body is also a winter body, a spring body and an autumn body.
I hope this post on the internalisation of diet culture norms has helped you to feel some validation. If you’re struggling with your relationship with food, contact BEAT Eating Disorders service for support.
Take a Paws and Tell me:
Do you feel the effects of diet culture at this time of year? How do you cope? I’d love to know your thoughts.