Diet culture is a system of beliefs that: worships thinness and equates it to health, promotes weight loss as a means of attaining higher status, demonises certain ways of eating while elevating others, and oppresses people who don’t match up with its supposed picture of health”.
RAPE culture is a system of beliefs that: worships MALES and equates it to BETTER, promotes SEXISM as a means of attaining higher status, demonises certain WOMEN while elevating others, and oppresses people who don’t match up with its supposed picture of THE RIGHT WOMAN”.
In a nutshell, diet culture creates its own system of oppression, is part of impossible beauty standards and intertwines with rape culture, it affects women the most, marginalised women even more so. I go into more details on my Instagram - Asian Femifesto
Sometimes fat women like me might shift our focus to being the "pretty face fat woman" or the "fashionable fat woman". I have tried both, both have gained me access to spaces, to people and to opportunities. So of course I know how it's a legitimate concern, it's not always a space cadet vanity project but sometimes due to survival needs, the want to access certain places and people, to elevate ourselves.
There's nothing wrong with that of course. WE WANT ACCESS! Feminism is about providing equity for marginalised groups.
This idea that diet culture is for clueless empty minded vainpots and doesn't affect serious female professionals is a fallacy, women are judged by our looks everywhere we go.
By shifting the focus to face and fashion, we're trying to redeem ourselves from failure to comply to diet culture, sexism and other intersections of marginalisation. To be socially acceptable by doing other things to fit in, our inner worlds are still distraught, our relationship with food is still fraught with tension, we pay the price with our unhappiness and the things we need to do to compensate.
We might earn less by living authentically, anyone who speaks her truth is indeed penalised by a system that rely on false promises and self denial, we also spend less on services to fix ourselves, we like ourselves more, we're charged, we only seek life giving people and life giving activities when we like ourselves.
Time to stop the cycle!
There's nothing wrong to like beauty, cosmetics or fashion, want to fit in or look good, I have a degree in fashion, worked for global fashion houses. The pressures of that industry is immense, I know the huge difference between that and working in social service, while both industries still do uphold beauty standards for women, people are much more down to earth in the SS sector, they value my character and personality far more than my looks.
I think it's because they have more exposure to people of different socioeconomic levels, especially struggles around poverty. Not to mention we're paid peanuts, so we're always kind of broke ourselves, compared to our corporate peers. As a side note, passion pay is bullshit, passion cannot pay bills, it says a lot about a system with policy makers that under pay social workers.
I hold a more relaxed attitude to diet culture, as in it's totally OK to give ourselves a boost once in a while, we don't have to live in a harsh punishing barren wasteland, where everything requires an exhausting amount of preparedness, controlling is how we get trapped into the dieting whirlwind of temporary success and ultimate failure of yo yo diets.
It's when we peg our worth to people's perceptions, seek external validation as a source of esteem instead of relying on inner conviction, the many positive qualities we know we posssess, we find ourselves on a roller coaster, depending on how much approval we get so we have permission to stop suppressing how we really feel, operate from a place of fear, usually how we're conditioned or pressured to feel, stuck in doubt.
People with genuine high esteem have relatively stable emotional states, we do not swing from high to low, we get stressed out like everyone else of course, we can be overwhelmed, we can bite off more than we can chew, we can experience anxiety, we do have a range.
That range is wide and flexible, so we can adapt to our environments easily, we don't need to control people to see us this way or that way. We can adjust shamelessly and live guilt free, knowing that our best is enough, people's judgements slide off our backs.
We also feel the full range of emotions, can pinpoint them accurately, we're not overwhelmed often because we have high awareness, we know how to catch ourselves before sink. We make the effort to do it, not because people are always kind to us, so don't comparing and imagining that someone has a perfect life, people always treat them right, there is no such thing!
Self care is part of being a good anything, a good woman, feminist, lesbian, partner, mother, daughter, etc.
Other people's perceptions are often incongruent to how we genuinely feel, if we peg ourselves to people's perceptions, we have to make sure everyone is as educated as a therapist, they all have good judgments, are good listeners, none have trust issues, people automatically see us as fully human and all of them think we matter as much as we want to matter.
You see how it's asking the impossible. Loads of people have the short list of issues I listed and those are the milder issues already, not the abusive ones.
Trying to control the environment is always going to be more exhausting than working on our inner worlds, we cannot please everyone and we don't have too. People are entitled to their opinions, we're entitled to how we react to their opinions, how we see ourselves really have nothing to do with others at the end of the day.
Of course ideally we should have conducive environments to live in, that is why we need feminism, meanwhile we still need to thrive no matter what. It's not as if our needs magically disappear once we become feminists, our needs are still present.
They can think what they want, we can think what we want.
Some can't be arsed to truly get to know us as well, some are determined to see what they want to see, some already have forgone conclusions, they're just attention seekers provoking a fight. People who drag us down with inner demons they don't want to fight daily, they bring that fight to us, try to get us to pay them attention while mistreating us.
We cannot afford to battle 24/7, we need to rest, take a break, process. Anyone who expects us to be invincible in such an unrealistic way are also people who usually mistreat us. So who cares what they think, we go seek those who can and will value us, that's more gratifying for us anyway, there is no loss dropping people who have unrealistic expectations even they don't meet.
So, don't keep hitting a wall, bleeding ain't cute, learn to do the best you can, the rest goes away with the wind, relax in the receiving so you can relax in the giving.
Be kind to yourself.
Some things that have worked for me include,
1. Homemade bone broth to heal the gut lining, this was recommended by a holistic doctor.
2. Probiotics - not all are created the same, I tried many different brands until I found the one I liked.
3. A spoonful of apple cider vinegar after each meal. I put it in a water bottle, so when I eat outside, I have it with me. Some people mix it with water, either way is fine.
4. I have been taking Omega 3 for about 10 years, it helps with my moods, it's part of how I weaned off psych meds, even before I knew it was a misdiagnosis, it was ruining my health.
It took me two years for all the Big Pharma drugs to leave my system naturally. Since part of the side effects is weight gain and fatigue, it contributed to the lousy relationship I had with my body.
I take as much as I need per day, this is also part of intuitive eating, IE is not reserved to food food.
5. Magnesium - I ran out of it during COVID 19 lockdown and it did make a difference.
6. Fart yoga - oops I mean yoga poses that help with indigestion. My favourite is Pawanamuktasana. This is known as the wind removing pose, I often fart while I do it so I know it works, I especially like watching fat yogis, hey that's me in another body!
7. Breathing exercises - inhale through the nose, deep into the stomach and exhale with force. When we're tense, our breathing becomes shallow, especially if you have trauma, we don't breathe well at all. When we're anxious, we hold our breathes, when we panic, we start to huff.
When you're feeling bloated, it's easy to confuse it with fullness, especially when your stomach sticks out, it even looks full. When I corrected my posture, one thing that bothered me was how my stomach sticks out now. I realised one of the reasons I use to hunch is so I "keep" my stomach out of body shame.
8. Prunes - I eat one or two a day.
9. Massaging my ass with a foam roller as part of my evening routine, I sit on it, rock back and forth, I immediately fart.
10. I use the SIXPAD Abs Fit, an electrical muscle stimulation machine, it surprised me with helping with my digestion. It help tone my mid section as well, so it helps with my overall posture.
Photo from Six Pad Singapore
Taking supplements that we need isn't the same as dieting, restrictive eating or controlled eating, the main reason why diet culture is so damaging is the assumption that when you fit beauty standards, you must be healthy. It sells the lie that if you look good, all your emotional turmoil will magically go away. All parts of life will suddenly fall into place, you will meet your prince charming who sweep you off your feet, you will meet your knight in shining armour who will fix everything that's painful for you.
Nah didn't happen, been fat skinny and everywhere in-between. People definitely are nicer to me when I'm skinny, that's because they're superficial and shallow, I don't want those people around, no matter how my body looks, I only want sincere people with depth anyway.
The main objective of intuitive eating isn't weight loss but enjoying your food, accepting your body as it currently is, getting the nourishment you need. A good overall gauge is are your energy levels up? Is you emotional state more stable?
Most importantly, are you enjoying your life? Don't underestimate the healing effects of joy, joy is actually the most important ingredient to healing, it is the highest vibration and keeps our hope alive.
Eshet chayil, God is a She
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