Recently, more and more people have started to realise the negative effects of diet culture and have started to accept various different body types and even types of nutrition. As a result, we have learned to move past fat-shaming, moving away from stereotypical models and idealized figures. As a whole, this movement is more accepting and thus promotes variation in the general public.
This analysis of the anti-diet movement may help you understand why and how it is more accepting. One key difference to note is that the anti-diet culture embraces variety within the whole, whereas the diet culture feeds on insecurities about body image and uses people with certain body sizes as a scapegoat.
- The diet culture reprimands people for eating too much, while the anti-diet culture praises people for understanding individual bodily needs.
1. Intuitive Eating
The connotations of both “peace” and “food” imply being in harmony while food implies nourishment in the personification of food illustrates the idea that developing a good relationship with food is crucial. When “making peace with food” is said, we can fully comprehend that a restrictive diet will only worsen shame and guilt. Ultimately, this highlights the significance of developing a good relationship with food.
To invite a friendlier tone, this article incorporates direct address when explaining “As you’ve probably realised, the anti-diet is nothing like the fad diets”. By doing so, the idea of Intuitive eating is contrasted to other diets by using personal experiences; it is supported as the word “probably” suggests that it is highly possible that you’ve realised, therefore if you haven’t, you identify yourself as a supporter for FAD diets which have a rather negative connotation, therefore increasing your desire to agree with this article.
By using a metaphor, when arguing “Strips away the rules”, the article elicits a sense of freedom from the reader, the word “strip” connote peeling away and removing the rules, allowing you to eat freely and respect your fullness.
When this article describes “taking the time to enjoy meals versus scarfing down takeout”, the use of antithesis allows us to empathize with the idea of honoring your hunger more satisfyingly. It allows us to focus more on healthier habits developed rather than the numbers. The connotations of the words enjoy and scarfing contrast each other greatly, for example: enjoy connotes a sense of pleasure and time while scarfing implies devouring food, or to stuff yourself. This evokes a sense of acknowledgment for food from the readers, which serves to reveal the importance of intuitive eating.
- Personification – Making peace with food
- Direct address – Captivating the reader’s attention
- Hypophora – The author wants to heighten the effect of important topics by asking a question, creating interest, and curiosity, proposing an alternative solution to dieting.
- Strips away the rules – Metaphor
Antithesis – “eating only when you’re truly hungry and taking the time to enjoy meals versus scarfing down takeout.”
2. Gain – Awareness
Caroline Dooner questions “Have you ever noticed how FAD diets can become cultish?”, the use of a rhetorical question allows us to fully comprehend the idea of gaining power or awareness. In particular, the word “FAD” implies a short spur which shortly diminishes as the next big trend takes over, while the word “Cult” creates a sense of being brainwashed. This captivates the readers’ immediate attention as it offers a rather pessimistic point of view seen upon FAD dieters, emphasizing the importance of reclaiming your power.
- In addition, the use of an anecdote proposes another perspective in which we can learn from. For example, when Donner argues “It took me a long time to see the parallel because I was in the cult”, this allows us to empathize with her perspective, putting ourselves in her shoes to view diets in a different light, providing a deeper understanding of gaining back your power, essentially implying that she was blinded by the dieting “sect”, employing the terms “cult” and “long time”.
The concept of reclaiming power has been further illustrated in the analogy to religion, through this quote “religions have historically taken advantage of shame and dogma, and ignited our “fear of the other” and people who are different from us.” By immersing the audience from the perspective of the author, the atmosphere is intensified, and as a result, the audience can perceive the diet culture through another set of lenses. This is done by comparing diets to religions that are “all-knowing”, for example: If the Bible tells us we’re wrong, we believe we are wrong, illustrating the power of authority. This is also done by providing examples of what cults would say to provide temporary safety and direction through imperatives, this shows the value of reclaiming individual power/beliefs and individuality.
Through the use of repetition of the word ‘cult’, Donner forces a sense of added weight on the word cult, as the connotation of the word cult implies that you are psychologically abused by a group. This further emphasizes the importance of reclaiming your power by implanting fear of being exploited. As well as this, the repetition helps us understand the recurring motifs and intentions of the diet culture, as it alludes us to question whether we are harming ourselves by being apart of a cult.
- Rhetorical Question – religion
- Analogy to religion – all knowing, if the bible tells us we’re wrong, we believe that it’s wrong
- Safety and direction – someone telling us what to do, more inclined to believe it
- If we don’t follow it, are we harming ourselves?
- Either kill or cure, if something tells you that certain food can cause cancer, you don’t want to die and follow it
- It’s a criticism – knowledge it uses (repetition – cult)
- Cult connotation – negative, associated to brainwash
3. No Ideal
Another theme that is prevalent in the anti-diet movement would be the idea of Individuality. This is reflected in the way food is described in order to encourage variety amongst food like as seen from this image on Instagram.
The words “new diet” demonstrates the exaggeration through humor as it implies that diet culture is so embedded in society that people have almost forgotten what to eat. This Instagram post aims to reveal the irony in diets as they claim to “free you or help you become healthier” while diets inherently restrict particular types of food. The word “diet” is so often abused that the word “new” almost loses its effect. Later, the audience’s attention is captivated due to the words “eating food” and “eating cake”, manifesting a sense of freedom from the readers, therefore exhibiting the importance of variety amongst food.
By using diction when describing “eating protein, carbs, veggies, fruit, cake, food”, the Instagram post creates a sense of offering different choices, both the words “cake” and “veggies” contrast each other due to the inherent nature of the foods, one is less nutrient-dense whilst the other is more nutrient-dense. This ensures the idea of variety amongst food.
- As well as this the effect of repeating the word “eating” implies that the very act of eating would be a good choice. This is done by adopting a satirical tone in which contrasting types of foods are used to demonstrate the profusion of choices. The words “diet” and “eating food” juxtapose each other because “diet” connotes restriction of food or a regime whilst eating food has this connotation of freedom, where food is “allowed”.
In addition, the use of the 100% satisfaction guaranteed logo implies that this is 100% foolproof and will guarantee success, further emphasizing the use of a satirical tone. This engages humor within the audience because the word “food” is not specified.
- This is focused on the recurring motifs of qualitative principles of nutrition such as how and whom we eat with, where we buy our food, removing the body shape dissatisfaction; comparatively to quantitative measures.
In contrast, the diet culture aims to mirror the language used with food to demonstrate the insignificance of individuals. By treating every food indifferently, it reflects the message conveyed about individuals, that everyone’s body is the same due to the generalization of humans.
- Repetition of eating
- Contrasting ideas
- Satirical tone
- Exaggeration through Humour
Thank you all for listening, this topic is difficult to ignore due to the immersion we see in all platforms. As a result, many books and blogs have created articles to talk specifically about diet culture. So often, we don’t realise the effects of diet culture because we have become so accustomed to living with the fat-phobia. But luckily, many people are changing their views on diet culture, and with new platforms like Tik Tok, many have started posting videos on their recoveries. With those platforms, many have opened up to their own experiences and have helped others going through the same difficulties. Activists such as Jameela Jamil have made incredible changes to prevent the spread of widespread phobia against varying body sizes. This is one step closer to a more accepting society, not just body image-wise, but also mental/physical health-wise.