Dieting has always seemed something rather ridiculous to my mind. I think it is because I associate it with svelte teenage girls at school announcing they were going on a diet because they were 'so fat'. This is not an interesting conversation jump off point to me, but then nobody spoke to me at school so who am I to say what's an interesting topic?
However, should I decide to diet or detox as a way to usher in 2013 I don't expect to be ridiculed or dismissed for making that choice. Those who didn't give up in Stoptober (you know, Stoptober, Movember...) but instead use the new year as an incentive to give up smoking are not greeted with a raised eyebrow but encouragement. Usually. Just as those participating in a dry January are being allowed to do so in peace. Sort of.
Of course some of this difference in attitude is because your health can probably only get better by cutting out nicotine and alcohol (not red wine though, that's mad beneficial). Going on a fad diet is unlikely to help foster a healthy relationship with food. Which is why Equalities Minister Jo Swinson has been discussing the annual January editions of magazines and papers obsessed with diets. "Every January we see these fad diets promoted. These aren't promoting healthiness, these aren't promoting a way of...doing things which will actually help people. They're actually suggesting that you can suddenly lose lots of weight very quickly and there are no negative health consequences.”
Swinson urged women to support each other on weight matters, commenting that “There's a resolution here that we all could make, women up and down the country. [The media] have got these features because they think people want to read them and part of that is because there is an obsession about being thin, so maybe one of the things we all need to do is support each other...”
the best compliment we can think of is related to how little space you take up in a room.
I think the majority would say they definitely want to change the conversation regarding January diets, or dieting in general. But if that is the case it has to change in both camps. Yesterday my Twitter feed was inundated with tweets laughing at diet tips and pronouncements on eating and enjoying the last of the Christmas chocolates and so on. That's great – enjoy!
But I couldn't be comfortable with these tweets. These were supposed to be feminist tweets laughing at the unhealthy fad diet industry, but really it looked a lot like they were laughing at eating disorders. I can eat this cake and think nothing of it, anyone who can't is a loser. Still sounding supportive to you? Last year Squeamish Louise wrote about size and various reactions to it, positive, negative and neutral and this sentence stuck with me: “my fatness...isn’t is an outward sign of laziness or an invitation to comment on my choices.”
I would much prefer the January media imposed resolution to concern itself more with whether or not this will be the year we wear more hats – causing people every January to write about how bored they are about this obsession with millinery. As yet this is not the case. Until that day (which is totally coming, with rocket boots attached) perhaps we could all do with remembering the current ongoing conversation on fad new year dieting goes both ways.