We are not born desiring or rejecting bodies according to their particular dimensions.
We are not born loathing or fearing or being comfortable with our own and other people’s thin or fat bodies. We are educated into these feelings.
In other words, our body responses, which register as sensations, affect, emotions, tacit leanings, tastes, and a whole realm of vaguely defined spidery feelings, are a social construct.
How we feel about things as adults is strongly impacted by the collective and familial circumstances, customs, and values of our upbringing.
Take food. Depending on our identities, geographical and cultural location, and…
New Pool Hollow is a 25 minute walk away. It’s a small disused reservoir. It was reliably a quiet place for wild swimming until featured in the Sunday Times as a quiet place for wild swimming. During the lockdown summer I met my friend Liz for a weekly dip.
Liz wrote about it once on her blog “The plunge is breath-taking, awakening, vital. It confirms my body to my senses, pushes the air out of my lungs and into a shout.” …
UK news is that BMI-based healthcare has been formally recognised as harmful. Wowee. That’s great.
This questioning happened off the back of a report called “Changing the perfect picture: an inquiry into body image.” Well, more accurately, it’s off the back of the courage and pain and scholarship and tenacity of all the fat folk and their allies who first spoke up. Those who had the nerve to risk the costly pushback that comes from challenging entrenched ideas and medical authority. Those who survived. Those who dared.
In Changing the Perfect Picture authors say the government’s anti-fatness strategy “is at…
Like millions of other people, I was taught that trees compete with each other for nutrients and space and light. Rapid tree growth was a sign of success. The text book said that planting trees at some distance apart would maximise yields. The worth of a tree started when it became wood, or because it trapped carbon dioxide which benefited humans. Nowadays we can add forest bathing (shinrin yoku) — when explained only as self-care — to the list.
Imagine if we’d been taught that young trees shaded by older trees are more likely to thrive than young trees that…
or Who Says Food Isn’t Medicine?
The exhortation ‘food isn’t medicine’ is doing the rounds on social media again.
It’s posted by healthcare professionals who share a concern about the impact of nutritionism, strongly allied with diet culture. Good. All food workers should raise awareness of harmful practices that masquerade as beneficial. We should all be arguing against nutritionism.
Nutritionism is a way of thinking about nutrition that turns food into a means of nutrient transfer and turns bodies into calorie-burning machines whose inner workings are fine-tuned by the calibrated delivery of nutritional substances.
Nutritionism arises from a western take…
The chairperson of a dietetic association said my blog post condemning weight conversion, aka dieting, was bringing the profession into disrepute and told me to remove it. Or else.
Lots of dietitians, me included, believe that it is the silence, not the speaking up, that brings the profession into disrepute. And more to the point, we put safety, integrity, and liberation before PR.
However, the legacy of poor leadership will be with us for a long while yet. This means we need to train ourselves to notice and reject the ways we have been groomed to support the status quo.
Recent coverage of racist killings by police and civilians and racialized death rates from Covid have reignited awareness of the need for ideological integrity and strategy.
If your work dismantling diet culture stopped feeling relevant as part of the call to prioritise anti-racist action then the work you are doing is not actually dismantling diet culture. Because dismantling diet culture, truly undoing the logic of the binary and replacing it with an entirely different logic, is also the work of dismantling the intellectual regimes, systems of thought and feeling, and social structures, that interact to reproduce white supremacy.
Mainstream approaches to health rely on healthism. Ideas like ‘eating kale makes you a good person’ and ‘it’s wrong to eat cake or zone out on the sofa’ embed a core message of healthism which states: you have a moral obligation to be healthy and if you’re not healthy you’re Bad.
Which is plain wrong. Our personal health status and lifestlye behaviours are not a measure of our moral virtue.
Despite this, healthist ideas prevail and our human worth gets judged on the basis of perceived health status, and on our degree of commitment to healthist behaviours, like dieting.
Thankfully, most people want to be good. We want to be good at our jobs and we want to be ethical people. Phew.
Any healthcare professional will tell you our first duty is the ethical injunction Do No Harm.
Even so, despite best intentions, we’ve been getting it very wrong. That’s because we’re using reductionist science. This scientific thinking understands phenomena by dissecting them and then reflects this — unhelpfully — in its ethical codes.
Social change needs a unified approach to science where we understand phenomena through interconnection. …