Are you on the I-hate-myself-for-having-fun-at-Christmas diet?
It’s that time of year again when the gym and Slimming World adverts start popping up and the pressure to undo all the fun we had over Christmas piles on our shoulders. Did you eat your own body weight in mince pies? Good effort. It can be hard to stay body positive at this time of year, but I’m not going to let the media and diet industry make me feel ashamed for having a good time over Christmas. You don’t need to change yourself in the new year because society tells you to.
Magazines are full of pictures of toned bodies and bold slogans on the cover like ‘eat up, slim down’ giving an unrealistic view of health. People seem to be searching for some kind of super-power so they can eat five Big Macs and still have a celebrity body. Those bodies don’t really exist - they’re the product of expensive personal trainers, make-up artists and clever lighting, not to mention a generous wave of the magical airbrush. We can’t aspire to look like people in magazines because they are not real. The sad thing is, most people know that, yet this perfection is still held up as the ideal. Our society has normalized ‘perfect’ naked women on the front of magazines, on billboards, on the side of buses – everywhere in fact. Sex sells they say, and sexy has been sold to us in the form of a very thin, fair skinned woman. All the people who don’t look like that (which is a lot of people) are targeted by the diet and beauty industry. Of course they’re going to hold up an unattainable standard of beauty – they wouldn’t make any money from us otherwise!
Tabloids and magazines regularly feature stories about women in bikinis - whether they’ve put on or lost weight, how soon they get their figure back after having a baby, how many wrinkly bits they’ve got. Their worth is scored on the basis of how many other women are jealous of them and how many men want to fuck them. Even women with ‘perfect’ bodies are scrutinised. Mentions of ‘she’s too skinny’, or ‘get over yourself’ litter the comments sections. If a celebrity puts on weight, she’s let herself go and is glorifying obesity. The general public suddenly knows more about her health than she does. Bigger is automatically seen as unhealthy, when in fact she may have been less healthy before due to restricting her diet to remain thinner than she naturally would be. Either way, it’s none of our business. Fat or thin, tall or short, we don’t need to voice our opinions on it.
Let’s face it, new year’s resolutions are bollocks. People make them because everyone else does. Everyone else does because they’re led astray by a million-pound industry which relies on making people feel like shit. For me, it started in school. The first day back after Christmas, we had to recite our New Year’s Resolutions. I was scared of what to say, I always thought I’d give the wrong answer. I knew I didn’t really have a choice, one of them had to be to lose weight. It was expected of me as the fat girl in the class, although even the thin girls in the class often said the same thing.
The ironic thing is, when I went on a I-hate-myself-for-having-fun-at-Christmas diet back then, I’d eat snacks from the Go Ahead range – the overpriced, processed fruity-cardboard crap I thought was healthy. Diets are often not healthy. They mean restricting your food, sometimes to an unreasonable or unsustainable amount, which is why so many diets fail. The diet industry loves that. They literally feed off our guilt and shame.
This is what happens every year, we over-indulge a bit in December and by the 2nd January there’s a pile of Slimming World flyers through the letterbox. The I-hate-myself-for-having-fun-at-Christmas diet is bad for your health, bank balance and mental wellbeing.
If you want to change something in your life, do it at a time with less pressure. Even the words New Year’s Resolutions has an impending sense of doom for me, and a complete lack of sincerity. I’m not going to try to impress anyone who believes in putting pressure on themselves just because the date has changed. I’d rather make my own positive affirmations on my own terms and in my own time. My new intention is to first sit back and take a good look at what I’ve achieved in the previous year. Instead of feeling like I’ve not been good enough, I’ll try to appreciate what I have done, and then think about what I’d like to do in the coming year. We can only set positive intentions for the future when we try to have respect and compassion for ourselves. That way the intentions end up being about bettering ourselves, not changing to live up to other people’s standards or funding a toxic diet industry which exploits our shame.
Now, I’m off to enjoy the last of the mince pies. I wish you all a wonderful 2018 full of confidence, fun and smiles!