OPINION: New year, New us

OPINION: New year, New us

For 2021, my new year’s resolutions include discovering and listening to a new album every month, using my agenda more and focusing on the things that make me happy. My new year’s resolutions do not include falling for fad diets, buying into weight-loss pills or defining my worth based on my shape or size.

Diet culture is the belief that “thin” body types are the most desirable, valuable and “healthy,” even if the means of achieving this image is harmful and unhealthy. This ideal can be traced back decades ago, when the beginnings of modern dieting began. In 2021, we can’t continue to let this industry that profits off of our insecurities thrive. 

All of us, in some form or another, have been victims of this toxicity. Unrealistic body standards were set since we were kids watching Disney channel, where adult actors played characters who were supposedly our age. As we grew up, we were surrounded by adults who emphasized the “washboard ab” trends of the 90s, which then became the “hourglass figure” standard seen today. For men, Superman might be to blame for the necessity to be not only athletic, but also cut and muscular. 

Whether we realize it or not, we still face this culture to this day. From celebrities like Kim Kardashian promoting diet-suppressant lollipops to magazine covers in grocery check-out isles reminding you to count your calories,” nobody is free from its reach. This stems from generations of collective internalized fatphobia. What started as a well-meaning wish to end obesity morphed into a dystopian world where even the healthiest of teens were forced into disordered eating, convinced that the folds of their stomach meant that they were undeserving of another bite. 

As someone whose family has shelves upon shelves of dieting books and has endured a lifelong struggle with weight, I can say with certainty that the time and energy I wasted on wishing I could look like someone I wasn’t could have been used more efficiently. It has taken me seventeen long years to unlearn all of the toxic standards I’ve been surrounded by. To this day, the fight isn’t over. 

Although our society is obsessed with weight, we can change that. In particular, one method is the goal of body neutrality. Body neutrality is the idea that you don’t support either the hatred or adoration of your body. This isn’t to say that you can’t love your body, but rather that you don’t obsess over the perceived better versus worse parts of yourself. It allows you to stop the criticism from your own mind, shifting from dislike to an appreciation and respect of your body. 

The only time we should sincerely consider losing weight is for health reasons. Otherwise, any goal to “get into shape” should be set with the right intentionsto work for one’s own growth rather than to look like others. Don’t fall for the predatory ads targeting losing that “quarantine weight”it only plays into this dishonest industry designed for us to fall and fail into a trap of life long obsession. In the end, “healthy” comes in all shapes and sizes. 

In the new year, we all deserve to focus on a happier and more mentally stable us. After the collective trauma we faced in 2020, we deserve a little more love and kindness to ourselves.