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B Side, Lifestyle

Diet Culture, Fitness Beginners and the New Year

Beauty standards dictate our lives, up to the kinds of jobs we are able to work and even the caliber of society we have access to.

  • Chiamaka Ejindu
  • 10th January 2023

What better way to usher in a new year than with a fresh helping of fatphobia, am I right? The new year is one significant celebration people who do not have small bodies dread because of society’s peer pressure, at large, to ensure that we conform to Eurocentric beauty standards. Unfortunately, many people do try by all means to fit into those standards because of the undue pressure faced if they do not and the direct benefits gained once they do. Beauty standards dictate our lives, up to the kinds of jobs we are able to work and even the caliber of society we have access to. This means that people are forced to do just about anything to ensure they do not remain plus sized. Notably, fad diets are being exposed for the con they are, but not quick enough. Many people still practice harmful diets like keto, intermittent fasting or other fancy names to cover up whatever bullshit re-packaged eating disorder they are attempting to sell.


Many diet plans do not even attempt to cover up or pretend to be somewhat sustainable, as the people who come up with them know that the billion-dollar weight loss industry is firmly behind their back. In the anti-fat society that we live in, there is nothing worse than being fat. People would rather risk death or have terminal illnesses than be fat. Where the iffy diet plans stop, gym culture collects the baton. So many facets of gym culture are toxic: from people going to the gym to jest at those who may not be as built as them to people starting communities solely based on what another person’s body looks like. ‘Fit’ people are also very notorious for  taking pictures of fat people at the gym, to pass off as humorous content. The very people they shame for not exercising are also the people whom they gladly make cheap jokes at their expense. 


As plus size fashion began to take rise, people in larger bodies had notably pointed out that  gym clothes were notoriously not made in larger sizes. This is because the gym culture is inherently exclusionary, but feigns acceptance when it is time to shame ‘out-of-shape’ people. As clothing retailers began to make gym clothes for fat people en-masse, all to expand their profit margins, there came a heated wave of  online complaints about that. They felt that it was ridiculous for bodies of this size to even come to the gym, much less enjoy exercise and even look cute while doing it. This year, the new complaint was against first time gym goers who would have a new resolution to go to the gym, but then abandon ship mid-year because they had of course started off with non-sustainable, non-realistic set goals. A popular gym even went viral for  refusing new memberships in the month of January. 


It seems utterly unrealistic to claim to not understand why so many people end up shirking on their new year’s resolution to lose weight, eat healthier or do more exercise. First of all, the body is not to be approached as an issue that you need to ‘fix’. Loving and accepting your body and yourself is the first way to spark any change in your life. If you approach life as a metric board for how much you personally stand to fit society’s body standards, you would only be playing a losing game. So many people refuse to dress how they like, participate in the activities that they like or even enjoy affection from loved ones until they look like the body society tells them they should. Little wonder that they go into the gym with expectations of starving themselves and performing strenuous activity to then drop half their body weight by the next week.



Secondly, many diets and workout regimens are quick paths to light-headedness, exhaustion and inability to focus. They are not realistic or cognizant of the fact that each individual person’s health can never be the same, because we all have different responsibilities, lifestyle practices, may even have chronic illnesses and most especially, share different genetics. Someone who is working multiple jobs cannot physically survive with having under one thousand eight hundred calories a day. Meal-prepping is also significantly hard for people who may not have comfortable housing situations, are broke or do not have another person to do the labor while they work. 


Many people who are smaller in size get by with life because they are genetically predisposed to be smaller. Even when weight loss occurs, a person who has lost weight is not qualified to give advice to other people simply because they have personally lost some form of weight. The medical practice is fatphobic as a whole, but the fact that simply looking smaller qualifies a person to give diet or lifestyle advice is completely ostentatious.


If new year resolutions could focus instead on encouraging people to be better versions of themselves; to aim for kindness as much as possible and to spread more love rather than outdated self-harming practices for the simple culture of achieving thinness, so many people would not struggle with feeling like they have to make that new year resolution of weight loss.

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