I have an experiment followed by a challenge for women out there. Because your dialogue matters.
The experiment on dialogue
When you next gather with a group of women, I want you to see how long it takes before the conversation turns to talk about dieting, food guilt, exercise, and body image/scrutiny.
I do this experiment for myself. And the fact is I don’t think there has been a time when the conversation doesn’t end up there at some point. You know what I am talking about, right?
“ I am feeling so disgusting lately I really need to cut out carbs…”
“ I have been doing Keto and it sucks but I have lost 15lbs already!”
“ Wow, you are so tiny and sculpted, I am jealous. I hate my thighs and arms”
“ I really want the burger and fries but I’ll regret it”
“ I’m going to have to hit the gym tomorrow to make up for this cheat day!”
Etc, Etc, Etc…
This is probably the most common way that women find connection with each other. What do you think about that?
Now I have a challenge for you.
When you are part of this group, and the conversation inevitably shifts to this topic, I want you to resist participating in it. I think this is one of the steps to dismantling this culture we live in. Maybe you choose to stay quiet. Or maybe you choose to gently change the subject. Maybe you just speak out against it, and have a discussion.
It might help to think to yourself “ What if a young girl (my daughter, my niece, my childhood self) was listening to this banter? How would she feel? How would this affect her entire life? What message is this sending to our young girls?”
When we continue to facilitate self degradation, body commentary and bias, moralization of food and nutrition, moralization of fitness and movement, and the need to police others’ health, bodies and dietary choices we are feeding into this patriarchal, oppressive diet culture that is designed to make us continually feel like failures.
There are so many other wonderful and important things that we could be discussing and engaging in with each other.
This is NOT how we lift each other up.
I am committed to changing the dialogue. I hope that you will join me.
(*Note: I am a 47 year old who’s gender pronouns are she/her/hers and I identify with being a woman, so I this was written from that perspective and my experiences from gathering with other women – but this certainly doesn’t mean that other gender identities wouldn’t be able to relate)
This is a great challenge! I recently joined a group of ladies for a study, all of whom are much older than me. One woman consistently kept commenting on my diet, exercise, etc and it was very triggering/painful. It occurred to me that I needed to say something if it happened again, not only because it hurts ME, but also because (as you so eloquently put it) all of these other women deserve to be free from those chains, too.
Thank you for writing! 🙂
Thank you Hayley! So glad that this resonated. Thanks for reading!