OPINION: The rise of diet culture
I'm sitting down in the midst of a coffee shop reading a newspaper and suddenly I overhear two young teens discuss what they're ordering and why. Justifying your order is norm.
One decides to sans the shots of syrup in their frappuccinos and leave the whipped cream aside claiming that an Instagram page has a secret Starbucks menu she learned about while the other nods and wants the same order. They gather their sugar-free concoctions and talk about how they're ready to get fit for summer. Between mumbles and sips I hear "squat challenge," "cleanse," and "diet pills." These girls couldn't be more than 14 years of age.
It's as if our species has evolved into a cryptic addiction of ideal beauty standards that are heavily perpetrated by the internet, which has come to a point where physical beauty is an obsession.
However, this generation's entertainment and information seems to surround diet culture and body image.
The phrase “diet culture” refers to a society that is so inundated with dieting propaganda, oftentimes imperceptibly, that it affects how we relate to ourselves and each other. And in case you haven’t noticed, we live in one.
One perplexing organism that holds the diet culture focus is the human body. Its capacity to feel, think, emote, and function are completely ignored in this day and age for superficial purposes.
Evolution or superficial plateau?
In the age of mobile apps and adamant sharing it's considerably easy to be able to look at whatever you so desire. From the simplicity of the Google search engine algorithm to Instagram tags and hash tagged trending topics, it's not news that technology is widely used for entertainment and information.
As an avid user of technology, social media, and apps, I've come across the trend of fad diets, magic pills and skinny teas.
What happens is you scroll and see a gorgeous fitness model or celebrity that you follow who posts about these teas, self-proclaimed to be magical energizers, transform your body, and basically convince you that if you drink this product you'll have the body to the likes of Gisele Bundchen or Gigi Hadid.
The reality is we live in an age where body image is harshly enforced to be pristine and comparable at all times.
It's the desire to always change but is changing improving?
Don't mistake me for supporting improvement. I support the vigorous efforts to be healthy and live a healthy lifestyle.
The sad part is the image and diet culture fads are not being enforced and sneakily marketed by (role?) models.
Along with the marketing influence of celebrities, social media users as young as preteens are seen scrolling through these apps, staring at these models with the thoughts of which squat challenge this month? What's the discount code for these skinny teas and diet pills?
There's a line between health and diet that is slowly crossing over to subtle disdain for how you look. This isn't new but it's targeted at a young and incredibly influential audience.
The diet culture of the internet is scary. It's even more frightening when you consider that girls develop symptoms of eating disorder behaviors around eight years old and now eight year olds and beyond have this access to the Internet and apps perpetuating these behaviors and overt physical concerns.
According to BuzzFeed, a student by the name of Eloise Parry was taken to Royal Shrewsbury hospital on April 12, after taking a lethal dose of highly toxic “slimming tablets”. At the ripening age of 21, she died like many others who have been influenced by sneaky marketing and unsafe diet products and trends.
Death is now a side effect of a product. This is consumerism at its peak.
The main issue here is the diet culture of the internet and the involvement with users from a young age that are heavily influenced by the appeal of fad beauty.
Dieting and diet culture have wreaked havoc on millions' self esteem. Diet culture has affected us all in one way or another, but it is incredibly harmful now for the younger generation who have access to these harmful trends. It's time we not only become analytical as a society but aware of the harm of advertising.