Against the Binary, Against Diet Logic
When our thought pathways drive us to pit one thing against another, such as body against mind, we are using binary thinking, aka as a dichotomous mindset, or dualism.
The trouble with the binary is that it underwrites supremacist thinking. It’s everywhere, it’s divisive, it oppresses. How we talk about food is a case in point. Diet culture overflows with binary pairings of good-bad, healthy-unhealthy, thin-fat and so on ad nauseum. Diet advocates urge us to follow food rules by using our rational mind to out-strategise the promptings of the sensual body.
When I talk about dieting, diet talk, Diet Mentality, Diet Culture, Diet Logic and so on, I’m talking about a way of being in the world that revolves around a belief that it’s not ok to be fat. There’s a whole load of associated beliefs that go along with this, such as everyone can and should be thin, beliefs that are poisonous and based on sham science. Various actions and attitudes flow from this fatphobia that centre on ‘correcting’ (sic) weight. So, someone might be running for the sheer joy of being out in the rain. Someone else might be running as a weight maintenance strategy. Same behaviour, different source to the impluse. The first one isn’t Diet Logic, the second one is.
Diet Logic wants us to reach for the food that fits our regime over the food that would satisfy us, packaging deprivation as being for our own good. Words like temptation, guilt, failure, willpower and shame are its glue. Must. Have to. Ought. Also success, toned, disciplined. Happy. In Diet Logic fat, which is coded as bloated, sluggish, lethargic, is bad and thin wins, at any cost. Diet Logic’s insistence on splitting mind (reason, discipline = thin, order, western civilisation, white) from body (emotion, fluidity, nature, disorder, undisciplined =fat, Black, precolonial civilisation), and its preoccupation with elevating reason and rewarding eurocentric body ideals is circularly rooted in racism and white supremacy.
In short, binary thinking structures the world through opposition; the oppostion white vs black set in motion colonisation and we live with, and are, its living legacy. Recognising this, we need to root out biases that uphold white privilege in order to prevent violence, honour Black values, stop normalising complacency, in order to start to repair harm done, in order to heal.