Why Diets Are A Capitalist Bullshit
This week on The Slut Show Ellen Moore is joined by singer, songwriter, creative powerhouse and fat bombshell Marloes (she/her). They discuss how diet culture makes an impact on the life of young women and teenage girls. Based on the incredible book The Fuck It Diet (Dooner 2019), this week’s Slutty Science explains how dieting was never about health and has always been a capitalist marketing scheme profiting from insecurities & lack of self confidence.
Please note: this article contains information about fatphobia, diet culture & disordered eating behavior, which may be triggering for some readers.
In the western world we are raised with the idea that skinny is a synonym for healthy and fat is one for unhealthy. This idea is so ingrained in our societies, that we hardly ever doubt its accuracy. Whether we like it or not, we live in a world dictated by diet-culture in which t he beauty standard remains to be skinny, white and cis-gendered.
One of the things we could consider to be a symptom of the world we live in, is the use of the body mass index. The BMI is a math equation, which takes your weight and divides it by your height to the power of two. This weight in relation to height calculation was first used ‘by a life insurance company in 1959 as a way of explaining their rates’ (Dooner 2019). This simplified equation was criticized by scientists because it was never meant to be used for individual diagnosis.
‘The BMI takes no actual health factors into account. It can’t tell you anything about your blood pressure, glucose levels, hormones, metabolism, strength, stamina, bone density, cholesterol, immunity or cellular respiration’ (Dooner 2019). So why is this kindergarten calculation called BMI still used so extensively in every single part of our society?
Growing up I learnt about the so-called “obesity pandemic.” A problem I thought weight-loss companies were here to solve. However, these companies were never founded to solve a problem. On the contrary, this fictional phenomenon they called the “obesity-pandemic,” began arising mid 1980s when people had already been spending decades using cigarettes as appetite suppressants, using amphetamines, ephedra, Dexatrim, the grapefruit diet of the 1930s, the cabbage soup diet of the 1950s, weight watchers that started around the 1960s and SlimFast arriving around the 1970s.
Here we are assuming that portion sizes and sedentary lifestyles are causing this problem, where in reality the number of “obese” Americans didn’t exponentially increase until the 1980s and 1990s. “Obesity” has continued to rise despite all of our dieting and “losing half my weight in 12 weeks” television programs. And to me, that just doesn’t add up.
What does, is the fact that the companies that sell the weight loss programs and drugs are also the ones funding studies being used by the medical community, sponsoring doctors and public health initiatives.
I hate to be the one to bring you the bad news, but all of this is not good will. It isn't non-profit organizations trying to better the world. This is capitalism. This is an industry that sets you up for failure, making 60$ billion dollars every single year, profiting from your insecurities.
‘A diet is not a cure for a disease. A diet is a cure that doesn’t work, for a disease that doesn’t exist’ (Dooner 2019).
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Lots of love,
‘The Slut Show With Ellen Moore’: A place to speak openly about shit you and I have to deal with on a daily basis. About feminism, insecurities, feeling like a bomb ass bitch and obviously about loads of sex. Raw, real and uncensored, Ellen Moore brings you your weekly dose of empowerment.
- Dooner, Caronline. 2019. The F*ck It Diet.