For decades, weight loss has been touted as an answer to almost any problem. Are you having trouble making friends? Lose weight! Can’t move up the career ladder? Shed some pounds! Need a new relationship? Drop a dress size! Seemingly, weight loss has been presented as a solution for endless difficulties that might be encountered in life. Women’s bodies have become the subject of scrutiny and the unfair blame of a host of issues. But the reality is that focusing on weight loss can be more detrimental and harmful to a woman’s health and life. The truth of the matter is that weight loss won’t fix anything, especially something that is not broken.
The Influence of Diet Culture on Women
If we look closer at the prominent messages that are in our culture, the majority of them center on the idea that a woman needs to change her body to look a certain way to be accepted, loved, desirable, and accomplished. This is reinforced on multiple media platforms, including social media, movies, television, commercials and more, communicating this idea to the masses that weight loss should not only be desirable but is necessary for multiple reasons.
When we step back to look at the big picture, it’s easier to see the different factors that make up diet culture at large and the influence this has on countless women around the world. In the United States alone, the diet and weight loss market is a multi-billion dollar industry, with research firms estimating its worth to be over 66 billion dollars a year . Here are some of the major contributors to the weight loss market and diet culture trends:
- Medical weight loss clinics and franchises
- Commercial weight loss programs
- Online dieting programs
- Diet frozen entrees
- Meal replacements, including shakes and bars
- Supplements and weight loss products, including
- Advertisements, and more
It’s easy to see how diet culture is rampant on multiple levels and visible in a variety of ways to communicate the message that weight loss is a solution to any problem a woman might have. Sadly, the high failure rate of diets and weight loss products along with the skyrocketing profit of this market show that one thing is true: Diets don’t work, and weight loss is not the answer.
Why We Need to Challenge Diet Culture
Diet culture would have women believe the message that their bodies are simply not enough as they are and that weight loss is needed for a multiple of reasons. However, when we look closer at how this mentality impacts women, it’s clear that dieting creates more harmful effects on women and their loved ones.
Dieting is associated with the following behaviors and side effects, including but not limited to:
- Increased risk of mental illness, including mood and anxiety disorders
- Increased risk of disordered eating that could advance to an eating disorder
- Increased obsession with food and chaotic eating
- Increased risk of morbidity and mortality associated with loss of muscle mass, increased cortisol levels and weight cycling
- Decrease in overall metabolic weight
Of course, these things are never disclosed in any weight loss program or product. On the surface, the weight loss industry promotes the idea that losing weight is the answer for every one of life’s problems. That women who lose weight are happier and healthier. But again, these are not truths, rather, the damaging rhetoric that is used to keep women stuck in the vicious dieting cycle and to keep spending money on products and programs that simply don’t work. Helping women achieve a true sense of wellness, health, and happiness comes from body acceptance and kindness, from nourishing one’s body well and engaging in movement that is respectful towards oneself. It comes from caring for one’s mind and body, eating a variety of foods, having healthy relationships, boundaries and self-respect. Dieting offers none of these things. By challenging the rhetoric that weight loss is a magical solution, women can find true freedom to live in and care for their bodies confidently.
How to Challenge the Weight Loss Rhetoric
The reality is that a happy, healthy life does not involve constant worrying about food and weight. Many women are losing precious years of their life to a dieting culture that offers only futile promises of hope and change. The good news is that you don’t have to go down this path or waste any more time under the pretense of weight loss.
If you’re ready to challenge the damaging weight loss rhetoric that is prominent in our culture, you can start by saying no to diet culture for good. It may seem scary to let go of something that seems to offer so much control and hope, but remember that these are false promises. You can truly thrive by learning to value who you are, knowing that the number on the scale does not measure your worth. You don’t need to lose weight to be loved and accepted, you are innately worthy and valuable.
If you feel stuck in the weight loss message, or if chronic dieting has led to more damaging eating disorder behaviors, please know that you are not alone. Our team at The Meadows Ranch offers specialized care and a compassionate approach to help guide you toward healing, freedom, and a true sense of health. Connect with us today to learn more about how we can help you reclaim your life.
References:: PR Newswire Market Research, “U.S. Weight Loss Market Worth $66 Billion”, https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/us-weight-loss-market-worth-66-billion-300573968.html Accessed 27 March 2019