What You Need to Know About Your Body and the Diet Industry


Last week, I was made aware of a new phenomenon known as the “Dad Bod.” If you haven’t heard of it (you definitely will), the “Dad Bod” is a specific physique that is a cross between a guy who hits the gym regularly and one who enjoys several beers and pizza during the week. Jason Segel, Seth Rogan, and Leonardo DiCaprio are the new poster children for the Dad Bod and women everywhere apparently can’t get enough. It’s a complete 180 comparison within the diet industry for women.

This is obviously a great thing, as many have said, because it helps more men feel confident in their real-life bodies. For decades men have been shamed for their bodies and scrutinized by the media, where they are subjected to photoshopped images of other men with perfectly toned physiques that they’ll never be able to live up to. They have been preyed on by the diet industry and shamed into thinking that anything less than flat abs and a perfectly toned butt makes them unworthy and simply means they need to work harder. And worst of all, they have been hypnotized into thinking that their post-baby bodies are ugly and in need of repair.

Oh wait… that’s women.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for supporting positive body image among BOTH sexes, but while the Dad Bod movement gains momentum, the Mom Bod movement, well, it’s practically non-existent, which isn’t surprising considering what it’s up against.

The weight loss and diet industry today has an annual revenue of $20 billion and 85% of those who consume weight loss products are female. Every woman in this country is a target of the diet industry and you don’t need to go far (or anywhere) to see it. The same day I discovered the Dad Bod, I logged into my Instagram account to find four follower requests from people who promised to make me skinny with teas, DVD’s, and shakes. As I sit here and type this, there is a video advertisement in my side bar telling me about a “skinny mom who got 6-pack abs two weeks after giving birth.” And recently, after joining a gym for the purpose of taking some yoga classes, I was asked by a trainer what my “fitness goals” were. I explained that I didn’t have any and was simply there to practice yoga, a true passion of mine. My response was met with a “well, you obviously don’t need to lose weight, but everyone wants to tone up, right?” Combine this with the way women are portrayed in the media and you have a pretty strong force to be reckoned with.

At this point in my life, I wouldn’t be considered overweight or unhealthy by normal standards, but I’m made to feel inadequate about my appearance and body on a daily basis. Like most women, I spent the majority of my life trying to lose 10 lbs. And following the birth of my son, I actually did (thanks to his several food allergies that left me eating only meat, fruits, and vegetables for a year). And do you know what happened? Absolutely nothing. My husband didn’t like me more (he already loved me plenty), I didn’t make more friends, I didn’t excel at my job, and I wasn’t a better parent because of it. But that didn’t stop me from wanting to lose more.

This is because dieting, weight loss, and a skewed perception of what is normal are ingrained in us from before we can even read. Ideas that bigger is bad and thin is good are planted in our minds as children and grow as we do, rendering us more self-conscience than we already are and teaching us to hate our bodies. I remember examining nutrition facts for calories in elementary school and worrying that I was “fat” before fifth grade. This isn’t out of the norm. Studies show that 80% of 10-year-old girls have been on a diet and more that half of girls (and one third of boys) ages 6-8 want thinner bodies. Horrifying, right?

The diet industry is sneaky. It changes and evolves over time to disguise itself in the name of health, fitness, and any number of other trending ideas. I’m sure you’ve heard “strong is the new skinny” or “fit is the new thin.” – just another example of the diet industry telling us how we should look. Only now, not only is it not okay to be overweight, skinny and thin are out as well… so buy our product and we’ll help you look acceptable. They sink their claws in and never let go.

More recently, weight loss companies have turned women on each other, paying them to push shakes, powders, and DVDs on others at inflated prices to make a profit. I don’t blame the women who sell these products, as they’re also victims of the idea that self-worth comes from appearance- an insecurity that the diet industry and media convince us of and rely on. But while having specific goals for your body is fine if that’s what you want, that truly needs to be your personal journey and no one else’s.

I hope that this can change, so that our daughters and young women everywhere grow up knowing that they are lovable, no matter their size or appearance. In order to do this, we must lead by example and reject the diet and weight loss industry, speak out about the lies we see portrayed in the media, and turn instead to self-love; to celebrating the Mom Bod and all the other bodies out there.

So to the women: you need to know that you are worthy just the way you are, because you are undoubtedly bombarded daily by messages from the media and diet industry telling you otherwise (and then you come across an article exclaiming how great the Dad Bod is). You need to know that happiness does not come from washboard abs or a number on a scale. You need to know that you are allowed to love yourself and be proud of your body, exactly as it is. If you are on a journey to be healthy, you can still love yourself NOW. It doesn’t matter if you are a size 2 or a 12 or a 22; if you are pregnant, just had a baby, or have never had children – you and your body deserve love today.

Remember that happiness and appearance are two mutually exclusive things that have no business being entwined with one another. And aside from loving ourselves, we need to love and encourage one another. There has been more recognition and support recently for loving our post-baby bodies, which is absolutely wonderful (though it’s gotten nowhere near the acceptance the Dad Bod has apparently gained), but how about a push to celebrate all women’s bodies, regardless, exactly as they are.

We have a long way to go.

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Dana grew up in Indiana and attended Indiana University, where she met her husband, Max. Following graduation, they moved to Chicago and then Madison, WI, where they welcomed their son, Theodore a.k.a. Teddy, in October of 2011, before settling back in Indianapolis and having their daughter, Marlowe in January 2016. Dana is a former science teacher and children’s and family yoga instructor. She has a passion for health, education, home renovation, donuts, and all things mom. In her free time she enjoys exploring all that Indy has to offer with her family. For more of her ramblings, you can visit her personal blog danajump.wordpress.com


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