I’ve been noticing a lot lately how many diet ads are on tv right now. Especially on channels typically geared towards women (HGTV, Hallmark.) At this point they don’t affect me, though I get annoyed by the obvious messages they are spreading that embrace diet culture. I get mad for my daugher, who I notices looks up when they are on. These ads promise so many things. One talked about getting a “slim, more feminine and not bulky figure,” another promises weight loss with shakes and packaged snacks. I see her watching these and I know what she is thinkng. These companies are promisng the belief that when you achieve the perfect body or the weight loss you are after, life will be perfect. She doesn’t know that she is being marketed to, she doesn’t know that most of these diets and exercise plans fail miserably and profit off of the thought that skinny=happy. She just sees promises to be different than she is. She, like me at her age, sees one type of body portayed, and can then start to think that what she is is BAD, or needs work. We are told that we need to change the things that are natural, like stretchmarks and cellulite and aging necks. We are told that aging is bad and young is good, as long as you do it “right.” She and I have a lot of conversations about what bodies do as they grow and how important it is to feel good inside and love yourself, something that has taken me a long time to embrace. I hope I can instill in her the knowledge that she is amazing AS IS, and doesn’t need to change her body to fit into any standard but her own. I get sad for girls now that are like me when I was younger, looking towards the media and others’ to tell us that we are okay.
Except the truth is, it will never be found OUT THERE, it resides within ourselves. We need to teach our girls (and boys!) that there is no “right” body, no “normal” body, no “ideal” body. We need to teach them that diets and diet culture are a money making venture and don’t teach us the right thing most of the time. It’s time to stop letting girls grow up looking at filtred content, especially with social media and filters, that the girl in the photo doesn’t even look like the girl in the photo. We need to teach our girls (and ourselves) how to feel good in their skin and block out the words and judgement of the world. We need change and I know that I, for one, am starting with myself and then teaching my daughter.
It’s time to change.