Diets and Diet Culture Have Been the Fabric of Our Lives

My mother has lived in the same New York City apartment — my childhood home — for close to 60 years. Deciding to finally move south, we sifted through her apartment filled with as many memories as possessions. The process flooded my senses with remnants of diets and diet culture: a doctor’s scale in the master bedroom, Weight Watchers food scales, bowls and measuring cups in the kitchen, bookshelves lined with diet books a la Atkins, Stillman, South Beach, Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem, and finally to my former bedroom, which still displayed that full length mirror I’d spent hours standing in front of as a teen!

Body image issues

Thankfully, I never developed a full-blown eating disorder but certainly dabbled in diets and had my fair share of body image issues through the years. Society is much more critical of a person’s weight and body size now than when I was growing up. Many young people feel enormous pressure to “fit in” and look a certain way. The media only fuels the focus on external attributes by using anorexic-looking fashion models in television and magazine ads. Eating disorders do not discriminate and can be seen across all races, sexes, ages and sexual orientation.

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