So it’s January, the time for diets to start, and for resolutions to be made. And for it all to be binned by the end of the month. But what is with this whole diet culture versus body positivity thing?
I’ll be honest with you. I don’t really know how I feel about the whole ‘new year, let’s be the best version of ourselves we can possibly be’ thing.
When I was a newspaper reporter, for a few years I was tasked with producing a New Year New You supplement. Full of diet and fitness advice from the experts and all that sort of thing. And people lapped it up.
But there seems to be a real confusion these days wherever you turn – it’s almost like to diet, or not to diet?
Bombarded with diet ads at this time of year
Traditionally on social media (as traditionally as you can get on platforms that aren’t more than 15 years old!), this is the time of year where you see fitness, exercise, healthy eating, and gym gear ads. Like ALL the time.
As we’re doing our usual scrolling, we’re bound to come across some sort of content that is encouraging you to make the leap, and join up to some healthy regime or other. There seems to be thousands of them.
And with a new year, this is the perfect time to start it, right?
However, there seems to be a kind of backlash against it all too. Under the catch-all phrase of ‘body positivity’, more and more influencers and social media ‘celebs’ are speaking out about how you should be vetoing all the diet schemes, and ‘learn to love your body’.
Body positivity is now a big, big thing
It’s a massive movement these days – body positivity. It’s everywhere. Videos are being made, books are being written, and it’s just as big as the ‘diet’ bandwagon. And it feels like this is the side we’re all *supposed to be taking. We’re being shamed into avoiding diets and opting for loving our bodies just the way they are instead.
Which is obviously all totally fine. And I am completely behind the train of thought that all these perfect (for perfect, read airbrushed photos) are not what we want our young people to be constantly seeing. I know they are not right, or helpful at all. And I know the problems they cause by basically suggesting you should look like that or you’re not good enough. I am not belittling how serious an issue it can be.
It’s not a new issue, either. I remember doing my A Level Sociology coursework on the topic more than 25 years ago. Albeit it was about magazines, not social media back then. Obviously these images are way more in our faces nowadays.
So for all those reasons, yes we SHOULD be shunning ‘diet culture’, and this holy grail of looking so damn bloody ‘perfect’. If that’s what we really think perfect is.
Should we all be loving our bodies?
We should all be loving our bodies the way they are, shouldn’t we? Lumps, bumps, wobbly bits, skinny bits included.
But what if we don’t? Are we not allowed to just make up our own minds and not have this whole ‘body positivity’ message shoved down our throats too? I find it as f*cking annoying as diet culture. There I said it.
Take me for example. Because, well, I’m the one writing this. I’m a mum of 3, who has just turned 42, I am vaguely intelligent, and I certainly know my own mind. I also do not like being told what to do. My parents and husband can attest to this.
And I am NOT buying into all this body positivity stuff. Mainly because if I don’t feel positive about my body, I don’t want some annoying ‘do-gooder’ influencer telling me I should love it.
It’s up to ME if I love it or not. The same as it’s up to ME if I want to try and change it or not. I am not a naive, easily-swayed, 15 year old girl who is trying to fit in. (That is by no means a dig at young girls by the way, I’m GLAD I’m not 15 in today’s society).
Stop shoving body positivity or diets at me – I can make up my own mind
I am a grown woman who can make up my own mind. And my own mind says there are parts of my body that I don’t like. There, it’s not that too difficult to say, really, is it? And I KNOW I’m by no means alone.
Take my stomach for example. This is obviously the part of me that has changed the most since having children, as is the case for most mums. My body carried my twins for more than 38 weeks. And they weren’t small twins. They were 7lbs 8oz and 7lbs 1oz. For twins, they were giants. Whilst the average weight of a single baby is 7lbs, the average weight of a twin baby is 5lbs. I had TWO babies in there that were bigger than the average weight of a ‘singleton’. No wonder my body took a beating. I ended up with diastasis recti, where my abs are separated. And basically for the first few years my stomach could easily look like it was 4 months pregnant still. No matter how much weight I lost. Even when I got back to pre-child weight, it made no difference at all.
The Body Positivity Brigade would say I have to love my stomach, and remember it gave me two beautiful baby boys. (To be fair it was never the same after the first child, but twins take things to a whole new level). I get that, I really do. Obviously our bodies do amazing things growing brand new tiny humans and all that. And obviously there is going to be an impact on them. Doesn’t mean I have to LOVE it though, does it?
And if I want to lose a few pounds because I’ve scoffed Christmas food and drink for pretty much the whole of December, why can’t I?
I’ll diet if I want, thanks
Why should I be shunning the diets, if that’s what I WANT to do?
I don’t know of many people who, come January, don’t try to be a bit more careful about what they eat or drink. I mean, I’m not going to go so far as attempting Dry January. I’m not stupid! But I won’t be knocking back the prosecco, wine and Baileys, like I did during Christmas week.
But I also won’t be rushing out to join a gym. I have done in the past, pre-kids I might add, but I can’t get into it. I have to say, I’m not a fan of exercise and have never found that one type I love, like some people do. Apart from swimming, but that’s a massive hassle. I’m basically pretty lazy, and I’m okay with that!
Although I did do a dance fit exercise class this week. The first bit of organised exercise I’ve pretty much done since having twins. I enjoyed it, I didn’t ache the following day which makes me think I didn’t put a whole load of effort into it, and yes, I’ll go again. Am I going to go more than once a week though for it to actually have much benefit? Nah, I very much doubt it.
Wearing gym gear but without the exercise could be my way forward
The best bit was the snazzy new leggings I bought that basically made my stomach look the flattest it’s been in 4.5 years. So I’m thinking maybe the way forward is to just wear them everyday and scrap the actual EXERCISE! I’m sure that’s what at least 80% of the school mums who wear them are actually doing?
Oh and I didn’t wet myself, which has got to be a win, right?! With my shit pelvic floor there was always that possibility.
If I want to lose 3 pounds or 3 stone by watching what I’m eating, I should be able to do so without feeling like I’m being sucked into the ‘bad’ diet culture, and not getting onboard with being ‘positive’ about my body. What about actually wanting to do it to become healthier and not just about what you look like?
If you love your body the way it is, whatever shape or size, then good for you. If you don’t love it and want to do something about it, then good for you too.
And if, like me, you don’t love your body, but are too lazy to do anything about it and are also fine with that, then good for you as well! It’s your body, ignore what the hype says, and do what the hell you want with it!
How did I do?
Did you enjoy this post? You might like this one too How to get a flat stomach after having twins – don’t bother, eat cake and be happy. Or for a less sarcastic read go to How to take care of your body after a baby. Then why not read a few of my other posts while you’re here. You can read a whole lot of parenting waffle in my Mum Life section. And if you want some holiday inspiration head to my Travel Section.
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