Imagine if you’d never been told that there was anything wrong with your body’s size, shape, or appearance.
(I know, quite a stretch in this culture, right? But go with me here.)
Imagine that you’d been raised with the message that you deserve love and acceptance in the exact body you have right now, without needing to change a thing.
And that your peers, teachers, doctors, and society at large all reinforced that message.
Imagine if our healthcare community knew that weight itself doesn’t cause health problems, but weight stigma does—and that part of the duty to “do no harm” means never telling anyone to shrink themselves.
Imagine if you’d grown up seeing bodies of all sizes and shapes—including very large bodies, round bodies, bodies with stretch marks and cellulite, bodies of every skin color and gender and age and ability—held up as beautiful and worthy.
How would your life be different?
How would living with a foundation of body acceptance change how you spend your time and energy?
How different would it feel to navigate the world? To go about your day, making any adjustments and allowances that your body needs, without judgment or shame?
To deeply trust in your body’s wisdom, and in your worth and value as a human being?
I’m tearing up a little just thinking about it. THIS is the world I want to live in. THIS is the world we all deserve.
But it’s not the world we got, and that’s painful.
Instead, we were born into a world where diet culture reigns supreme, and where we’re all told pretty much from day one that we have to monitor our size, our shape, our appearance, our food intake, our movement—because, the rhetoric goes, we’re not good enough the way we are. Not until we take up less space. Not until we disappear.
(Here, buy this product! Do this “lifestyle change!” Eat this “superfood”—then you’ll be deserving of love!)
It’s all complete BS, because you ARE deserving of love already, exactly as you are, even if you never let a single chia seed pass your lips. But diet culture’s messages are strong, and they’re pervasive.
They make it really hard to live the life you just imagined for yourself, which is why I’m always saying that diet culture is a life thief.
So when you struggle in your efforts to break free from The Life Thief and make peace with food, know that you’re not alone.
These struggles are inevitable in the world we live in, and recovery is not a linear process.
Your journey will zig-zag and go backwards and jump forwards and just chill in one spot for a while. It might take you in directions you didn't know existed.
Recovery is individual, and it’s inevitably going to be influenced by how our bodies change over time and how the world around us changes (like all the new ways that diet culture keeps morphing and disguising itself).
It’s also going to be influenced by life circumstances and the different types of oppression or privilege you experience in the world.
That’s what my guest on this week’s episode of Food Psych, Maria Paredes, wants to convey about recovery.
She’s a Health at Every Size psychotherapist who’s fighting for a world where body acceptance is the norm, AND she knows that in the one we live in now, recovery is often an ongoing process.
We talked about how to navigate the gray areas and the hard parts in recovery, the “recovered” vs “recovering” debate, and remembering that there’s no way to do intuitive eating perfectly.
We also got into how diet culture and the diet industry target the most marginalized folks, why activism is an important part of helping people heal from food issues, raising daughters to be resilient to diet culture, and lots more.
Check it out here for some support in your journey toward the life you truly want to lead.
Here's to creating a better world for all of us,
P.S. If you're ready to learn some new skills for accepting your body and reconnecting with its wisdom about food and movement, come join my Intuitive Eating Fundamentals course. You'll become part of a beautiful community that's supporting each other in navigating the ups and downs of recovering from diet culture.
This post was originally published in my weekly email newsletter.