Let's Break Up With Diet Culture

(There's one link in this blog post that's an affiliate link, which is a link to a product I designed for my tshirt store.)

I was a chubby baby.  I had fat rolls on my fat rolls.  Same for being a toddler.  Then I hit around age three and I became pretty thin.  When I neared puberty, I was a size 14.  I was made well aware that this was "plus-sized" due to my  mother taking me shopping for clothes and making a big deal about having to shop in the "plus" section.  Whether or not she meant anything by it, it didn't matter.  It was stuck in my head and became the mantra of my entire life: fat=bad.

From early childhood, it was drilled into my head that you should never make fun of someone for being overweight, as it wasn't their fault.  My mother was a chubby lady and she always made a big deal about how fat she was, especially by making jokes at her own expense.  My father, when drunk, would scream "Get the crane!" when she'd bend over.  My uncle would pick on my mother's size, because he knew that fat people weren't worth being nice to.  He knew they were less human and didn't deserve his respect.  My dad knew that.  And by the way she made jokes about herself as thought she was lower than a piece of dirt, my mother knew that as well.  And so while I knew other people couldn't help being fat, I also knew that I could help it and would do anything I could to prevent it from happening to me.  I was already treated as less than human, and didn't want another reason to give people to hate me (or to hate myself).

When I left puberty, and started eighth grade, I settled in at one-hundred twenty-five pounds at five foot seven.  I was a size seven.  Any tiny bit of weight I had on me was in my legs, and I found it hard to fit into things that other size sevens could fit into because of it.  My boyfriend at the time told me "I love resting my head on your lap.  It's like having two huge pillows to sleep on."  Boys in high school gym class would say "You're not fat, just your legs are fat!"  And once, I had a very overweight girl walk up to me at lunch and say "Damn!  I thought my legs were fat!"

I look back at the the pictures of me and my legs were very skinny.  But I was told by so many people how fat I still was, that I believed them.  At age fifteen, I became anorexic.  I stopped eating.  The weight barely came off.  I was dating an abusive asshole and continued to date him for two years.  He used to make comments on how little I ate, but at the same time body shamed to keep me from eating too much.  Once I hate an entire bag of Doritos because I was so tired of being starving and nauseous, but instead of making myself purge (I have a phobia of vomiting so bulimia was never an issue of mine) I physically abused myself by digging my nails in my stomach and giving myself bruises.  I knew if he knew about what I did (eating the Doritos) he'd be the one to bruise me (either mentally or physically), so instead, I did it to myself.  But more than that, I was utterly ashamed of what a fat pig I was.  I remember screaming and crying and hating myself so much that had I thought to kill myself for what I did, I may have gone through with it.  But I knew I had to teach myself a lesson, that overeating is the biggest sin (in a nonreligious way) a woman could do, and if I put enough hate into my body, it would listen and conform.  So the next day I started taking Dexatrim.  A friend caught me at school taking them instead of eating lunch and screamed at me for an hour and threw away all my pills.  After that, I was more scared of the pills killing me than of being fat, so I never took them again.

Two years went by.  I turned 17 and broke up with the horrible asshole.  I started eating again, but not as much as I should have.  By the time I was 18, I was passing out due to low blood sugar.  Prom came around.  I was convinced that my legs looked gigantic in my dress.  I obsessed over the part of my thighs that stuck out right where my butt met my thighs.  It grossed me out so much that I forced my mother to buy me whatever passed for Spanx in the 90's to suck in my fat.  She was confused because I was so thin.  I wore them under my dress, but still felt gross the entire night anyways.  I was still not perfect.  I was still so fat.  Yet, if you took my shirt off and put my arms above my head, my ribs stuck out more than they should.  I was so proud of that.  I had a twenty-five inch waist, and the only part about me that I liked was my too-thin stomach and bony rib cage.

When I hear about that Youtuber that looks like a walking skeleton (and I am not trying to be mean here, I fear she is more anorexic than Karen Carpenter and have only seen commercials for children in Africa who are starving that look close to what this girl looks like) and then I hear about how young girls want to look like her?  While it looks completely insane, I totally understand that mentality and how they think like that.  It's called: Body Dysmorphia.  And if left untreated, it can kill you.

Body dysmorphia is when you look in the mirror and see a distorted image of yourself.  It's obsessing about something in your image that others can't even see.  It can be your nose size, the shape of your lips, or some other part of your body that you feel is flawed or broken.  Most people who have this mental disorder focus on their weight more than anything.  People with eating disorders most likely have body dysmorphia.  And there is never any reason to wonder why this is.

Every single day as a teenager watching Golden Girls and Designing Women and other shows that I loved, they would break for commercial and I'd be bombarded by commercials for Dexatrim and other diet pills and the like telling me that a woman's job is to be thin and beautiful.  Today's commercials are no different, with most of them targeting women, saying we lose weight differently then men do, and we need pills more than men do, and our weight is more stubborn to come off than a man's is.  Then we have the magazines, the movies, and the TV shows, where every woman (and a lot of men, but not all men) are thin and beautiful and perfect, so that we strive for this impossible look as all of the men and women in magazines are photoshopped.  We are given the rule book on how we're supposed to look by the pictures in these magazines and in Hollywood.  And we live our lives desperately trying to live by these rules.  And if you are seen as someone who's not even trying, then you are treated like garbage.  More so, you are made to feel like garbage, because you are seen as a reminder of failure to everyone else.  We fat men and women remind the thin men and women that failure is possible and that scares the shit out of them.  We can't blame these people for the fear that societal diet culture puts into them (although we can blame them for how they choose to deal with their fears).  But we have an entire world that the diet culture business (and yes, it's a business, as is the healthcare industry) has poisoned to believe that being fat equals being hated.  What better way to sell your products if you think the world will hate you if you do not conform?

When I turned 20, I got pregnant and married (in that order) and gained seventy-five pounds in the last four months pregnancy.  My ex-husband used to tell people "You can really tell it in her fact she gained weight".  It was a thing for him, to go on about how much weight I gained.  Then I lost the weight after childbirth, but after I quit breastfeeding, I was 165lbs, and stayed there until my next pregnancy years later, where I gained seventy-five pounds again.  My uncle (the one who made fun of my mother) said to me after not seeing me for years "Damn, you've gained a lot of weight."  I replied "I'm pregnant.  I can lose weight, but you'll always be ugly," and walked away from him.  While I was considered obese, I still felt "pregnant fat" and the idea of someone making fun of me for being pregnant was just asinine, so I didn't take it to heart.  If I had only held onto that sentiment, that a bully picks on you because they are asinine and not because you deserve it, I would have learned to love myself instead of avoiding mirrors for years on end and being horribly surprised when someone took full length pictures of me and showed me what I really looked like.

After I quit breastfeeding the second time, I went down to 175lbs, which was only ten pounds heavier than I was before I got pregnant.  I didn't mind my weight as much.  I did become anorexic again for a short period of time, trying to lose weight, but I quickly gave it up because I couldn't stand being so nauseous.  With both pregnancies I had wretched morning sickness and just couldn't bring myself to feeling like that again.

I got divorced and met my now-husband a few months later.  I had stopped caring about my size, for the most part.  I ended up gaining another twenty-five pounds in the first few years.  Then I got an IUD and gained thirty more pounds and when it was removed and replaced five years later, I gained thirty more.  I now weigh 265lbs.  My biggest before this was 230lbs when I was pregnant with my youngest son seventeen years ago.  My weight has always been a part of my life as an obsession.  But I never saw it that way.


Because it's seen as completely normal to always be thinking about your weight.  The diet industry has always made sure of that:

  • It's normal to make self-depreciating jokes about yourself being fat, as a way to show others that "I know I'm fat, and I know it's wrong to be fat, and I want you to understand I know these things about myself so you find me acceptable."  
  • Because it's not normal to be okay with your weight, no matter what size you are, thin, fat or otherwise.  
  • It's normal to hold onto clothes that do not fit you anymore, as a way to say "When I get back to this size, I'll be acceptable again!"  
  • It's not normal to own only the amount of clothes you need, that fit you right now in this moment (we live in a culture of excess, so even if everything fit us, it's not normal to have less than a whole closet full).
  • It's normal (and expected) to wear clothes that hide your fat, and to not wear clothes that show off your fat (like swimsuits, etc.).  
  • It's not normal to wear what you feel comfortable in when you're fat, even if that's small amount of clothing and it's really not normal to feel comfortable in a bathing suit, even if you're thin (but especially when you're fat). Many fat men and women wear tshirts when they swim because of this reason, as not to offend the thin people with our fatness (I used to do this as a thin person who thought she was fat).  
  • It's normal to weigh yourself daily and keep a record in your journal of your "weight loss journey".  
  • It's not normal to live a life of leisure and relaxation.  Everything in this culture is Go! Go! Go!  Including our exercise regimens.  What if we just threw away our scales and instead of heading to the gym and working ourselves until we almost break (like my sister does--no judgement, I just feel bad she feels she has to do it), we were gentle with our bodies and became strong in less stressful ways?
  • It's normal to always second guess what we put in our mouths in fear of enjoying something fatty or sweet as a fat person (and even as a thin person).  
  • It's not normal to to feel no guilt when we eat, to eat what we like and to not care what others felt about it.  Wouldn't it be nice to be able to do that?
  • It's normal to check yourself out in a reflection or a full-length mirror and be disgusted, and usually make a comment about how gross you look so others can hear you.  This says to the others "I am acceptable because I know I am unacceptable.  Please don't hate me."  
  • It's not normal to find what you see pleasing (especially as a fat person) looking back at you in the mirror.  It's not normal to love ourselves as-is.  So with that, I ask: What the fuck is wrong with this world we are living in??
We are supposed to hate ourselves, no matter our sizes, otherwise, how would the diet culture industry make their money?

Each year, the industry makes billions off of us.  They bank on self-hatred to make their money.  They create our self-hatred with their ads, which filter into the brains of others and makes it normal and okay and expected to hate fatness.   Fatness is perceived as a preventable communicable disease.  And the only vaccination and cure is diet culture.

And this effects both the thin and the fat.  If it's okay to hate on fatties, then it's okay to hate on yourself for gaining weight.  So we are walking around in a self-hating culture that is being projected outward on actual fat people because we represent what others fear becoming.  People act as though looking at a picture of Tess Holiday on the cover of Cosmo will all of a sudden cause spontaneous fatness to appear in our bodies or our children's bodies.  That somehow seeing a picture of a woman who doesn't hide her fatness behind black tshirts and sweatpants will cause the world to see being fat as okay.  And that would be so very, very wrong.  At least that's how diet culture wants us to think.

Let that sink in for a moment.  The world is against a particular group of people seeing themselves as acceptable human beings.  As though a body shape dictates humanity and worthiness as a human being.

Miss USA did away with the swimsuit competition last year.  I had just met my half-sister online months before, after being an only child my entire life.  My half-sister is a pageant queen.  And she had a hissy fit when she found out this happened.  I tried to reason with her, to let her know how crazy it was to be angry that fat people were being allowed in the Miss USA pageant.  I was nice and polite about it, but she went off saying that these pageants were women at the top of their game and if they let fat women in, it was like a slap in the face for all of those who worked hard to be thin.

That's the view of our world right now.  That if you work hard to be thin, you will be rewarded.  That there's a payoff, other than good health, because beauty is worth more than humanity.  They will argue that you have to be a good person to be in the pageants, but I will argue that if you have a view like that, you could be a lot better of a person.

Pageants are the epitome of what's wrong with our culture.  They say that outside beauty is more important that inside beauty.  If that wasn't true, then why is there only one part of these pageants that are for being a good person, and the rest you don't even open your mouth for?

So, if you work hard to be thin and will be rewarded for it, then what will happen if you don't work hard to be thin?  We all know the answer to that: you will be punished.  And it's socially acceptable and expected by society to do so.  Punish the wicked.  And being fat is seen as so very, very wicked.

Hating on fat people solely because of their size is socially acceptable (and expected) bigotry.  Plain and simple.

Us fatties are upping the insurance premiums for everyone (not true...research it).  We are unhealthy (not all of us are unhealthy, and even if we are, how is that anyone's business but ours and our doctor's??).  We are presenting an unhealthy lifestyle to children (does anyone actually believe this or am I fishing for things here?).  The first two are really most of what I hear about, as though those are reasons to hate on fat people.

When the truth is more simple that than that.

People hate us because we represent what they fear becoming, so others don't hate on them.

Don't they see what a sick circle that is?  "I create hate in order to prevent myself being hated for the same thing I am creating hate for."

If they just stopped creating the hate in the first place, they could stop fearing being hated themselves.  It's simple.  But where does it start?


People didn't stop being racist (though racism still exists) all by themselves.  Being openly gay didn't become socially acceptable because people just came to their senses (like racism, this bigotry still exists as well, just a lesser degree).  And people can't stop hating on fatties until us fatties rise the fuck up and do something about it.

Black people stopped bowing down to racism.  Gay people stopped hiding from the bigots.  And us fatties need to stop hiding our bodies from society and start getting out there in bikinis and crop tops and whatever the fuck else we feel like wearing.  We also need to stop being scared of eating in public or entering beauty pageants, or going to parties or anything that we fear due to our body shapes.  We need to stand up and just do what we want.  We need to stop waiting for thinness to happen first before we start living our lives.  And we need to stop imagining our future selves as being thin.  And we need to see exercise as something we do for our health and not for our body shapes, because we can be healthy AND be fat.  It doesn't matter what our bodies look like.  We are all perfect the way we are because we are us.  Not because of some crazy unattainable beauty standards companies set for us so they can sell us products.

And unlike other fat activists who say getting angry is the only way to deal with these assholes in the world, I have a different way: I just don't give a fuck.  I let them say what they want.  I let people think what they want.  I owe nobody an explanation for my body size or my choice of clothing or what I eat.  I do not owe anyone an apology for those things either.  I do not need to defend myself against false claims about my body shape.  The burden of proof always lies in the person doing the accusing.  I am not doing anything wrong by existing while fat.  So if someone bullies me?  I will just laugh, because I don't give a fuck.  I will sometimes tell them in a gentle way "I am so sorry you feel so bad about yourself that you feel the need to try to hurt me, but maybe instead of bullying me you could go see your therapist to deal with your own issues, mmkay?"  It doesn't matter if that shuts them up or not, because I don't give a fuck.  Coming back at them with anger or my own insults only shows they've won, they've gotten my proverbial goat.  They set out to hurt me because they are hurting and are lashing out from their own pain to make others feel the same.  I refuse to play their game.  So I stopped giving a fuck about what they say, and instead listen to what they're not saying: "I am hurting.  So I want to make you hurt, too."  

Refuse to play their game and adopt the hashtag #nofucksgiven (click for the tshirt) as your mantra in life, no matter how thin or fat you are, or whatever you look like.  You are you.  And you are perfect.  And if someone wants to bring you down to the level they feel about themselves (which is why a human bullies another human)?  No.  Fucks.  Given.  Just know that the person bullying is just projecting what they feel about themselves, and you will have no reason to internalize their words or actions.  You can then pity them, giggle, and continue being your badass self.

Diet culture is based on nothing but myths and lies (and is a breeding ground for bullying on body shape).  So why have anything to do with it?  The realities of body shape vs. health is so different than the things people believe about it today.  Breaking up with diet culture is the biggest thing you can do to change your life.  Diets usually will not help you.  So why stress yourself out trying to get skinny when you can just get real?  And the reality of it all is that unless you love who you are in this moment, you will not love yourself if you lose some pounds.

How Do I Break Up With Diet Culture?

There are so many ways.

  • The number one way is to simply stop dieting.  
  • Then you need to accept that you are the size that you are and you don't need to change in order to be a person worthy of the things thin people are (love, attention, certain jobs/experiences, etc.).  You are worthy of all of that right now.  
  • Then you stop thinking you can't wear shorts or skirts or swimsuits or whatever else you assume you can't wear because of your size.  You can wear whatever makes you feel amazing.  What you put on your body is your own business, nobody else's.  
  • Stop seeing other people's bodies as negative.  It's ingrained in all of us, not just thin people.  If you find yourself thinking something negative about another person based upon their appearance, then immediate replace that negative thought with a positive one.  Find something positive about them that you admire.  Continue to do this every single time you have this happen.  Then you eventually will stop thinking immediate negative thoughts about what others look like.  
  • Stop making excuses for your size.  Fat or thin, we owe NOBODY an explanation for our bodies.  Or apologies.  
  • Stop making jokes about your size to make others laugh.  
  • Stop telling yourself you'll do something when you're thin enough.  Do it now.  
  • Stop imagining yourself doing things in the future as a thin person.  Imagine yourself as you are now.  Your body shape may change before then, but that doesn't matter.  Doing this is a type of disassociation with your self as you are now, as though who you are now isn't you, only the thin person is the real you.  We are always the real us, no matter what our bodies look like.  
  • Stop assuming the world will not accept you because of your body size.  Stop caring if they do or don't, and do what you want to do anyways.  You are paving the way for others to be accepted by doing so.  
  • Stop thinking negative things about your own body.  Get used to the way it looks.  Take off your clothes daily and look (front and back) into a full length mirror.  At first, it's scary, because we're taught to see ourselves as horribly flawed and gross.  But eventually, you'll get used to it.  And eventually you'll accept it and love it as is.  Also, find parts of your body that you like.  Rub your belly, your arms, your thighs.  Get used to how it feels.  Learn to love it.  
  • Stop berating yourself for what you eat.  You are human.  You need to eat to survive.  Why not enjoy the food your needs as well?  
  • Stop taking "Did you lose some weight?" as a compliment.  It's not a compliment.  Seeing it as a compliment means that fat isn't pretty or that some body sizes are more acceptable than others.  Losing weight is losing weight.  Nothing more.  It's not a compliment to be called thin(ner) just as it's not an insult to be called fat.  
  • Stop working hard to be thin and start working to be healthy.  Health has nothing to do with body size, and everything to do with movement.  Move in healthy ways to get healthier, not thinner.  
  • Be who you are, right here, right now, unapologetically, in your entirety, with not a wish to be someone else or to look different than you do right now.  It's a tall order, I know.  BUT, if you keep at it, you will eventually be able to do so.  The idea of accepting ourselves, as-is, fat or thin, and however we look like on the outside and feel on the inside, is just so foreign, when we've been self-hate since day one.  But if you make this your goal, every single day make choices that celebrate your awesome self instead of hating on it, you will get there.  Life doesn't begin when we become something better, life begins when we choose to love ourselves and honor ourselves in this moment, because we know we don't need to be better because we are perfect as-is.

Ponder this: Who would you be if you were free from self-hate?  

You can be that person.  Right here.  Right now.  Honor your body by freeing yourself from that prison of self-hate and watch how you find what you've been looking for for soooooo long.  Who knew that breaking up with diet culture could do so much?


Make a list of everything you'd do if you were thin (or different from what you are now).

Would you snorkel?  Join a dance troupe?  Perform?  Ski?  Do yoga?  Do a sexy photo shoot?  Wear shorts?  Make new friends?  Write as much as you can think of. 

Then choose one thing and do it.  Then choose another.  And another.  And keep choosing until everything is marked off on your list.

There's no reason to wait.  Because life begins right now.

Here are some great resources for you to check out (not aff links): 

You Have The Right To Remain Fat by Virgie Tovar (I do not dig her views on everything, but much of this book I could relate to, so I recommend it to anyone who's interested in breaking up with diet culture)

The Body Is Not An Apology (website)
The Body Is Not An Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor (book)

Landwhale by Jes Baker (Jes is so beautiful!  And she's the reason I started wearing shorts again after 30 YEARS of being too ashamed to do so!)
Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls by Jes Baker

The Not So Subtle Art of Being A Fat Girl by Tess Holliday

Body Positive Power by Megan Jayne Crabbe
BodyPosiPanda (Megan's Instagram)

Every Body Yoga by Jessamyn Stanley

Big Girl Fit by Louise Green

Big Gal Yoga by Valerie Sagun
Valerie's Instagram

Dietland by Sarai Walker (the only fiction on this list)

#NoFucksGiven Tshirt (so you can tell the world that you don't give a fuck about their impossible body standards!)

Have anything to add to this list?  Please share below!

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