The global dieting industry
“If we woke up in the morning, all of us collectively, if we woke up every morning & said, “Ohmygod, I look awesome”, entire industries would collapse. An economist back in the early 2000’s made a prediction that if every woman in the US & Canada alone, gave up all beauty & diet products, for a week, that we would have industry collapse that mirrored the airline collapse after 9/11. That the entire world economy would shift. So there are a lot of people literally banking on us feeling pretty crappy about ourselves”. - @brenebrown
It’s not new news that diets don’t work. Suddenly reducing your intake below your body’s needs triggers the body to conserve energy for another time. While weight shifts are neutral & indifferent to a weight inclusive practitioner, it frustrates me that the very thing diets promote (weight loss), 95% of the time result in the opposite (weight gain) in the long term, because of these metabolic (& often, psychological) changes that occur in restriction. It would be 1 thing if diets worked & people were okay with giving up joy in life & possibly their health if shrinking the body at all costs is the priority (because hopefully we all know it by now that “better health” & “weight loss” are certainly not congruent) but they don’t even work, & they result in the opposite outcome that people undertaking them expect (in the long term). People blame themselves, however an understanding of how our metabolic systems & biological / psychological processes around starvation work, allows you to zoom out & see it’s the system.
I am convinced that some people who prescribe sudden reductions in dietary intake (this CAN be that weight loss challenge at the gym or in the workplace, the comment from your friend at dinner, it might even be the meal plan from your Dietitian or PT or Health Practitioner), from observation & conversation, I’m convinced a lot of these people may not know or understand what’s happening to the body with sudden restrictions or drops in caloric intake in regard to triggering the famine response (I actually don’t recall being taught this at Uni in depth or in my trainings to become a Qualified PT, which is actually absurd to me now, but healthcare & the fitness industry is deeply rooted in weight stigma & discrimination & this isn’t new news either - we need a major systemic rehaul), but I’m also convinced some people know exactly what they are doing & are only concerned with the money in your back pocket & how quickly they can get it into theirs. I really do believe people don’t know what they don’t know & I like to hold a compassionate approach when educating others. As a personal share, I’ve had to process a lot of guilt regarding the contributions I’ve made to diet culture in the past. This is why I do believe some people truly don’t know what they don’t know & deserve the benefit of the doubt if such is the case. But unfortunately, I don’t think such is the case for everyone.
The good news? You can get educated. You can build yourself up so the crap flies by without a by in.
PS watch out, diet culture is getting goooood at recognising that people are becoming really aware that diets don’t work & why, & subsequently we are seeing a rise in “stuff” that apparently isn’t a diet... but it is
See the telling statistics below.
*Reference: Brown, B. (2008). I thought it was just me (but it isn't): Telling the truth about perfectionism, inadequacy, and power. New York: Gotham Books.
What is the impact of these expectations?
• Approximately 7 million girls and women suffer from an eating disorder.
• Up to 19% of college-aged women are bulimic.
• Eating disorders are the third most common chronic illness among females.
• The latest surveys show very young girls are going on diets because they think they are fat and unattractive. In one American survey 81% of 10 year old girls had already dieted at least once.
• A research survey found that the single largest group of high school students considering or attempting suicide are girls who feel they are overweight.
• 25 years ago top models and beauty Queens weighed only 8% less than the average woman; now they weigh 23% less the current media ideal for women is achievable by less than 5% of the female population - and that’s just in terms of weight and size.
• Among women over 18 looking at themselves in the mirror, research indicates that at least 80% are unhappy with what they see, many will not even be seeing an accurate reflection. Most of us have heard that people with anorexia see themselves as larger than they really are but some recent research indicates that this kind of distorted body image is by no means confined to those suffering from eating disorders. In some studies, up to 80% of women over estimated their size. Increasing numbers of women with no weight problems or clinical psychological disorders look at themselves in the mirror and see ugliness and fat.
• According to the American society for aesthetic plastic surgery since 1997, there has been a 465% increase in the total number of cosmetic procedures.
• Women had nearly 10.7 million cosmetic procedures, 90% of the total. The number of cosmetic procedures for women has increased 49% since 2003.
• The top five surgical procedures for women were liposuction, breast augmentation, eyelid surgery, tummy tuck and facelift.
• Americans spent just under $12.5 billion on cosmetic procedures in 2004.
Who benefits from the appearance expectations?
• The $38 billion hair industry
• The $33 billion diet industry
• The $24 billion skincare industry
• The $18 billion make up industry
• The $15 billion perfume industry
• The $13 billion cosmetic surgery industry