Rejecting diet culture and choosing body acceptance
By Emily Ayers Contributor, Photos by Jordan Daniels Opinions Editor
I remember looking in the mirror to see if the outline of my collarbone was still prominent. I would shift my shoulders until I could finally see them poking through my skin.
To me, this was the definition of being skinny and beautiful. I remember when I was younger people would comment on how feminine a prominent collarbone was.
This notion has stuck with me into adulthood and as my weight fluctuated I found myself holding onto this body part as the beacon that I’m good enough. When I can see it, I feel like I have made it. I have finally gotten my body to the point of acceptance.
But sadly over the past few years I have realized just how much anxiety this destructive belief caused. If one day my collarbone wasn’t visible, I would tell myself I needed to go back on a diet and exercise methodically until it reappeared.
This thought process was normal to me, and it occurred with other parts of my body as well - the bulge of my stomach, the thickness of my thighs, or the plumpness of my cheeks. They all served as constant measures of how much I did or did not accept my body.
The sad thing about it all is that I am not alone in this struggle. There are people who fight this internal battle for self-love every day.
It isn’t easy to work towards a societal standard of beauty and it isn’t fair for society to place that on us.
It isn’t fair that people are struggling to see their worth and constantly feel the need to validate their existence in a culture that tells them to be good enough, they have to change.
This battle is made even more difficult as young people on college campuses are placed in an environment that reinforces these cultural norms.
People find themselves the hamster wheel of diet culture - a culture that fosters unhealthy relationships with our bodies as well as with food and leaves people feeling helpless.
Society preaches weight loss as the answer to everyone’s problems and says that restrictive eating is the only way to have control over ourselves.
But diets don’t work, which is why they are always pitching new and improved ones. Skinny does not always mean healthy, just like fat doesn’t mean unhealthy.
We all owe ourselves an apology.
We need to apologize for allowing years of not believing that we are beautiful to go by.
We need to apologize for believing that our worth is measured by our body size and that one body part could actually compare to our inner wisdom and strength.
We owe ourselves an apology for believing that a flat stomach makes us lovable, but that thighs that rub together and shake as we walk aren’t beautiful.
We need to say that we are sorry for not standing up for our true selves that are buried beneath the lies society has piled on us.
It is from there that we will finally be free to strive for radical self love and endless body acceptance. Reject all that you thought before.
As you continue on with your semester, say “screw you” to the old mindset and “hello” to a new one that is unrestricted and one hundred percent defined by you.