I’ll give it to the fashion industry – its trying. In its own unique, ‘fashion-y’ kind of way, its trying to increase its body positive message. No doubt this is obviously a result of long, sustained campaigns tirelessly promoted by Body Positive fashion advocates, to whom I take my hat off to.
Whilst I’m not denying there isn’t a long way to go, I am aware that while the fashion industry cops a thrashing for its recent efforts, another industry sits back and carries on its daily business of sustained psychological manipulation and body shaming. An industry who is currently getting away with openly encouraging us to feel so ashamed about our bodies that we hate ourselves – and then ask for their help.
Tell me if you think the fashion industry could get away with using this in their advertising (click on the link to see the full ad):
How do we respond to this overt form of body shaming and psychological manipulation? Well we spend almost $600 million annually on it. Why? Because they have probably spent the equivalent on researching the most effective methods of emotionally targeting what is already a vulnerable population.
Here is some more evidence for good measure:
For many, many years there has been a concerted effort to call out the diet industry for it’s efforts of outright psychological manipulation and body-shaming efforts. But for some reason our focus seems to go on the fad diets that promote themselves with the girls in bikinis or guys with ripped abs, promising that use of whatever fat-blasting concoction will see you looking like them in six weeks. Not often is the attention focused on the ‘big three’ as I like to call them. And these are the ones I believe that are doing the most damage.
It takes one week on fat burning pills or drinking lemon tea to work out that someone’s had a lend of you. For other programs, it takes a lifetime to realise that they made you dependent on their product by very subtly suggesting that you will not like yourself without their help. It is even more frightening when they happily promote people who have been dependent on their product since adolescence:
Well you know what? I for one am tired. Bloody tired actually. I’m tired of having women come to me whose relationship with food and themselves has been destroyed by dieting. I’m tired of seeing women broken and defeated by dieting; their confidence in their own ability to make smart food choices absolutely non-existent and outweighed by a belief that they ‘need’ these programs to tell them what to eat. It breaks my heart to see grown women stand in front of me exhausted from an emotionally and physically toxic relationship with food that for some has spanned over 30 years. For many women, dieting has placed them in an abusive relationship with themselves.
When considering the gravity of that last statement, go back and read the first three quotes, paying close attention to the language. ‘Fell out of love.’ ‘I didn’t like myself.’ ‘Why should other people like me?’ If we sat and said these things directly to each other we would be offended. But because they are being presented to us as relatable people who have ‘overcome’, we quite often take the bait.
So what do we do about it? Well I certainly don’t have the resources to take on the diet industry, but I do have the ability to speak to YOU. To implore you to see these targeted, emotionally manipulative strategies for what they are. And then ask you to pass this piece onto a friend. Then they pass it onto a friend. All of a sudden we have an awakening of people motivated to take nutritional choices into our own knowledgeable hands.
Be true to who you are. Don’t be ashamed if you are one of the people who are exhausted by years of dieting. Call it for what it is and know that a diet headspace may be counter-productive and don’t go there. Focus instead on setting fitness goals for yourself. Enter that race. Sign up for that tough mudder and train for it. Take up that sport you always loved as a kid. Focus on moving and simply enjoy ‘doing.’
I know this sounds horribly simplistic but it works. It worked for me, it has worked for clients, and it has worked for members of our Body Positive Athletes community.
If you feel you need help with food, a qualified Sports Dietician or Nutritionist will not suggest that you hate yourself until you reach your goal weight. They will not suggest that you be dependent on them telling you what to eat every day for the rest of your lives. They will not tell you that its ‘easy’.
It’s time we called out these emotional bullies for what they are and stop rewarding them with our money and our trust.
As I mentioned in my previous post, wouldn’t it be great to see the day that this method of advertising and shaming didn’t actually work because we made the decision that we love ourselves enough to nurture ourselves through movement and good, balanced nutrition? Let’s make that day happen. We may not have the power of money or resources, but we have each other – and I think that’s a power that cannot be measured.