I cried for awhile before I could respond to my friend. I’m not an expert in the ED world, but I have been there as a young girl loathing her body and searching for self acceptance in all the wrong places. I started restricting at age 11 and by age 14 had used laxatives as well as diet pills. Companies that claim they are not marketing to children are not fooling anyone. Their ads are being seen and influencing young individuals, fueling their insecurities and providing hope in a sick twisted way. Diet culture today would have appeared like a beacon of light to me at 11. The products solicited today claim fast solutions with minimal effort. I would have bought this all hook, line, and sinker. This needs to stop. We owe our children a better world than they are immersed in now.
The conversation that followed gave me hope. My sweet friend talked to her daughter about love and self acceptance. She stressed admiring strength and demonstrating respect for her body. I was so impressed at how she took this scary question and propelled it into a dialogue of positivity for her daughter. What kills me is that the word “diet” was even in the stratosphere of a 6 year old, but the truth is we as adults often don’t realize what comes out of our mouths. We don’t talk kind about ourselves and that is a big problem.
I recently read an article in which Victoria Beckham discussed purposefully eating with her daughter. To be honest until I read that article it had not crossed my mind about when my children were witnessing me eating. I have been practicing intermittent fasting for quite some time. This method of food consumption reduces the amount of times in a day I eat. Her words caused me to pause and reflect on the impact this may have on my children’s perceptions of my eating behaviors. My reasons for choosing intermittent fasting were far less important than establishing a positive environment for my children surrounding food. I have since abandoned IF and consciously acknowledge that I need to slow down what I am doing so that I am eating with my children. I don’t want my warped experience with diet culture to negatively impact their lives. I will never not have disordered eating thoughts, but I am going to be damn sure to try and prevent others from following in my footsteps.
For many years I did not talk about my past struggles. I was embarrassed and ashamed of the path I had taken and the effect it still has on me to this day. As I became more aware of the extent to which others also struggle with disordered eating I felt compelled to speak up, not as an act of gaining support or sympathy, but out of obligation. It is my responsibility to create a different world for my children and others. It is not enough to want diet culture to end! Actions have to become purposeful and calculated to create the change that is needed.
I’m still shook by my friend’s message and for a brief moment I felt defeated and hopeless in the crusade to change the way society accepts diet culture as the norm. I honored that sadness last night and woke with a new fire. We cannot lose hope if we are going to be the change for our children. Diet culture needs to end, but it may not fall in a miraculous large event like the Berlin Wall as it came crashing down. What many forget is all the efforts that came before to create that glorious moment. Diet culture will end, but it will crumble slowly with the grassroots efforts of each of us. Our steps may be small, but our actions are creating ripples and eventually diet culture will be too weak to exist.
In my house my children will see me eat and praise my body for its strength. I will strive daily to value my health and continue to show up for myself rebelling against the norms of society that equate a number on a scale to happiness. I can make a difference, I can do better…my children’s future depends on it! Who’s with me to fight against diet culture and create a new norm?
#BeHappy #BeKind #BeActive