Written by Vedika Pathania, a second-year student.
(Meant for kids older than 15. Trigger Warning- Body Image, Depression, Body Dysmorphia, Eating Disorders)
It is a question we knowingly or unknowingly ask ourselves almost daily. And as I sit here writing this, with a mug cake that I just baked, I can say with certainty- No, there is no such thing as a perfect body.
So no matter how much you think that you aren’t how society expects you to be, that you aren’t thin enough, tall enough, too thin, not enough ripped, remember that you are perfect the way you are. Remember how important it is to love yourself and to respect the body that has gotten you through everything. There is no such thing as having a perfect body. The media we consume, the airbrushed models are just fooling us. Like Bruno Mars said, “You’re amazing, just the way you are.”
This is where the concept of diet culture comes in. The point where most of us fall prey to societal norms and expectations is when we don’t understand the difference between a ‘perfect’ and a healthy body.
Diet culture has a lot of different meanings and aspects, but in short, it’s a system of ideas that worships thinness and associates it with health and moral goodness. Consider diet culture to be the lens through which the majority of the world see beauty, health, and our bodies; a lens that influences your judgements and decisions about how you feel about and treat yourself. “In diet culture, there is a given status to those who are slimmer, and it implies that eating in a specific way will result in the appropriate body size — the ‘correct’ body size — and good health, and that it’s attainable for anybody who has the ‘right’ willpower,” according to Judith Matz.
In reality, there is no such thing as “perfect” body size. Go over this sentence again.
Diet critics believe that diet culture hurts everyone who has a body, particularly (but not exclusively) individuals in comparatively bigger bodies. Though healthy bodies exist in all shapes and sizes, our cultural experiences differ dramatically depending on a person’s size — weight stigma and thin privilege are both very real — and no one is immune to diet culture’s stigma. Even individuals with “normal” or slim bodies might have the feeling that they aren’t thin enough in some areas.
This results in so much more than people going on restrictive diets which often strip bodies off of essential nutrients. When one grows up believing that they aren’t perfect, this thought, this self-doubt tends to stick and manifests into depression which further leads to eating disorders such as Bulimia Nervosa and Anorexia.
For many individuals, diet culture fosters a destructive way of life, yet because of its pervasiveness, dismantling it can feel frightening and personal. It’s also not anti-health or anti-nutrition to oppose diet culture: just the reverse. The anti-diet movement promotes evidence-based health metrics that aren’t based on body weight. Anti-diet attempts to liberate individuals from policing their bodies every waking moment, wasting time and energy fussing over food choices, calories, macros, and the like. Its goal is to help individuals fill their tummies with the food they desire and need, so they can focus on matters that are far greater and more important than how we look and eat, without being distracted by continual hunger. It enables us to recognise that the key to happiness and freedom is not, as diet culture has long led us to think, locked within a smaller body requiring a “willpower” key.
We may begin to trust our bodies again once we fully comprehend how diet culture is based on falsehoods and false promises. Simply observing our actions, feelings, and thoughts about our eating and food choices might be an excellent place to start. Accepting that diverse body types exist, just as different eye colours and shoe sizes do, and then pursuing healthy behaviours in all aspects of our life may be the best we can do. You may achieve a higher feeling of contentment by rejecting the existing quo and choosing to love yourself and your body. Additionally, talking to a therapist or reaching out to a trusted loved one might make a huge impact if you’re having trouble.
As someone who grew up constantly being told that I was “too fat”, a part of me believed that I wasn’t good enough or pretty enough and that I’ll probably never be. Take my word for it, the journey towards accepting yourself and falling in love yourself is bumpy. It is a long road, endless twists and turns, endless doubts and second guesses, but it is a journey worth taking. I’m still somewhere in the middle of it, I have a long way to go, as do we all. But all we know for sure is that we’ll come out of it as more confident individuals. There is a light at the end of the tunnel after all.
Where do we start?
Bottom line, we don’t need to fear eating or not fitting into that one dress that has been hanging in the back of your closet for ages. You’re perfect, exactly the way you are. Don’t let anyone tell you or make you believe otherwise.
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