It’s Time To Trash Crash Diet Culture

Shedding for…

I’ll never forget being the only one out of four women who hadn’t been dieting on a beach vacation I took in my early twenties. They all looked amazing- bikini confident after months of counting points for every bite while on the most popular fad crash diet at the time.

I felt the opposite; I’d spent that year gaining around 20 pounds, after graduating from a performing arts conservatory program. I finally felt free from those pressures to be Hollywood thin, enjoying my newfound curves, giving up vegetarianism, and falling deeply in love.

woman holding an apple in one hand and a donut in the other

As I watched them chatter about how many points were in our frozen drinks, it occurred to me that I wished I had thought to watch my diet in preparation for that trip. Like I’d have been having more fun if only I’d lost ten pounds, too.

Throughout my twenties, I saw a fear of body change grip most of the women I knew. How casual it was to lament our {often imaginary} flab, reminisce about our younger, thinner days, and sometimes crash diet for big events. Weekend away with your new boyfriend? Juice cleanse. Vegas for a bachelorette party? Hot yoga every day for a month. Ten year reunion? Better lose 20 lbs. Especially if you are bigger than you were in high school but haven’t had a baby.*

But the crash diet to end all crash diets? “Shedding for the wedding.” Some variation of this slogan can still been seen emblazed on tank tops at gyms around the country. {I also knew bridesmaids who felt this sudden urge to take up running or go Paleo.}

woman in bikini holding measuring tape

“It’s the photos!” Yes, I know. Weddings are probably the most photographed day of our lives. Whether our own or one we are an intimate part of, your picture gets taken- A LOT a lot. From every angle. But I have never been to a wedding where the bride didn’t look, hands down, the best she’s ever looked. I have never once thought, oh boy. She didn’t shape up for this!

Likewise, I’ve never thought this at a reunion or any other event. I’m not judging their bodies, so why do I assume or fear they’re judging mine?

*Can I just take a second to rail against the idea of “mom bod”? I get a strong sense that while moms are also “supposed” to look exactly as we did pre-motherhood, we at least get  by having that as an excuse. And the women whose bodies evolve without experiencing pregnancy or breastfeeding don’t get a pass for it. Like we need to be a mother as justification for our bodies changing as we age.

This is part of being human. Our bodies change over our lifetime. Parent or not. Society should be more accepting of that. Women don’t need the excuse of “baby weight”. We don’t need any excuses. Our bodies are not up for discussion.

Why is the Crash Diet so Common?

Yes, it’s marketing and diet culture and a million external things. But why should women internally subscribe to it?

Sometimes, I think about the happiest, most joyous times in my life. The truly unforgettable moments, the ones I wish I could relive just for a single minute.

And in none of those memories, do I look back and wish I weighed five fewer pounds, or had toned up my arms, or had cut out carbs for a month or two prior.

So why, then, do I go into a panic before big events, vacations, reunions, or weddings that I need to do any {or all} of those things? And I know I’m not the only one. Sadly, I think this is more universal than any of us is talking about.

feet on scale

At the crux of it, I think we’re culturally at an intersection between toxic diet culture being a slowly dying enemy while also having a personal desire to present an airbrushed version of ourselves to the world on social media.

Choosing to love my body, as is, every day, is work. It is not some nirvana we can achieve and then stay in forever. It’s not a destination to get to; it’s a daily choice. It’s looking at myself every day and saying, I’m already enough.

sign that says I Hate Nothing About U
Tell your body daily: I hate nothing about you!

And yes, I have to work a lot harder on this when I have an event coming up. As I write, I’m preparing to travel to see a lot of people I haven’t seen in several years; some since before my second child was born {she turned 5 a few months ago}. My body is not the same body it was a year ago; it’s been strong through a lot of stress and it’s changed shape, for now. But it’s still beautiful. It’s who I am in this moment. And one day, I’ll look back on the photos I take during this reunion and smile over the memories of it; no body self-shame allowed.


 

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Mary B. is a lifelong creative, dreamer, and joy seeker. Born and raised in northern Illinois, Mary attended the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, receiving her B.F.A. in acting, then worked as a sometimes actress/model, sometimes waitress. Mary and her husband got married in Sept 2012, welcomed a son in 2014, moved to Texas from Chicago in 2016, and welcomed a daughter in 2017, completing their family. She self-publishes her musings on marriage, motherhood, and life on her blog, Accidentally Texan,. In her free time {free time--ha!} Mary loves to read, cook {and eat ;)}, work out, swim, travel, and spend time with her family. Mary believes emotional connection is the root of humanity and our collective purpose in life.

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