Today is International No Diet Day and women around the world are thinking, "but I really just need to lose ten pounds."
But here's the thing: you really don't, because losing ten pounds will not make you more successful, it will not suddenly make the world a better place, it will not make you smarter or more valuable to society, and it will not suddenly convince you to love yourself unconditionally, because I am willing to bet some dollars that after you lose ten pounds, you will want to lose five more. Dieting is also kind of dangerous:
While the multi-billion dollar diet industry promises a better body, better health and indeed a better life we now know that long term weight loss is not achievable for the vast majority of people. Dieting can lead to the development of an eating disorder and even when it doesn’t, dieting teaches us not to trust ourselves and keeps us in constant conflict with food and our bodies.
International No Diet Day (INDD) was first celebrated 20 years ago. It was sparked by the passion and frustration of Mary Evans Young, who had recovered from anorexia. She is the founder of a UK organization called Diet Breakers and is the author of Diet Breaking: Having It All Without Having to Diet.
Isn't it just a little sick that we need an international holiday to remind us that we should not be restricting our caloric intake in search of a more perfect body that we believe will somehow make us happier, prettier, more valuable, and an all around greater human? Newsflash: you are a great human at any weight, and food is there for you to eat it! Sure, maybe you should eat more vegetables, fewer sugary and processed foods, and probably refrain from the fried goodies, but you should be doing that because you want to put good things into your body, not because you want to put smaller-sized clothing onto your body.
I must also say (as I am constantly reminded by my guy friends when I post things about women and diets) diets are not limited to women, and men also suffer from poor body image, although I will forever argue that for women, body image holds different weight in society and internally because gender oppression is a thing, but I don't want to neglect the fact that men also struggle with dieting and feeling the need to look a certain way. So let's not gender International No Diet Day, and just go ahead and say we all need to love ourselves more and lose the idea that being on a diet is somehow necessary.
I will let you in on a very honest and very private moment for the sake of making a point. Just last night, I texted this to my friend, who I had seen recently after not seeing for a while:
Me: Ok, so I know this is a little silly, or maybe a lot ridiculous but this weekend, did I seem smaller? Like, I know you said I look different, but did I look smaller?
Me: I know this is SO DUMB and I seriously need to just take my own advice but I just feel like I need confirmation because I feel super tubby lately.
Honestly, what even is that?! I am an intelligent, beautiful, strong-willed, and accomplished young woman with a knack for helping others see their beauty, but you would never know that from reading that garbage. I share it because I have a strong feeling that many readers will relate to my self-consciousness, self-doubt, and extreme hypocrisy (this is not the first post I've written about the ridiculousness of the diet craze and dieting industry or the need for self love, and I often lecture that same friend on how she should love her body instead of trying to fix it). Sometimes we tell others what we need to really hear ourselves, and as a feminist who struggles with body image and engages in restricting diets, that is particularly true for me.
There will always be moments of weakness in my growing self-love, but I have to keep reminding myself that my body is strong, and it will always be my own, and I need to love it because no one else will ever need it, use it, or appreciate it as much as I do. That's why today is so lovely; it reminds us to take some of the advice we give our friends when they're upset about eating a cookie and breaking their diets. Your mind can be used for a lot of amazing things if it's not preoccupied with how many calories you're allowed to eat in a day.
Check out these awesome ways to celebrate the day:
The one physical thing you will definitely never be without in this lifetime is your body, and that makes is pretty important to accept and love it for what it is, and therefore accept and love yourself. Three cheers for International No Diet Day! Treat yourself to those foods you deem off-limits, skip the gym if you really hate it (but totally go if it makes you feel awesome!), and take a no-shame full-body selfie, because you don't need to change a thing about you to be perfect.