In my continued attempt to more deeply understand our society's investment in beauty sickness, I asked my good friend Lisa Woodruff, who actually knows the science behind nutrition, to answer a burning question:
Is it possible to pursue a healthy lifestyle while also calling out beauty sickness?
Here's Lisa's answer!
Yes – but we must remember that healthy living is a choice, not a moral obligation to society.
Let me explain: Within the healthcare community, there is a small but growing movement to incorporate weight-inclusive practices and promote Health At Every Size®.
Beauty sickness, Diet culture, and even the Wellness diet all promote the concept of healthism – the belief that health is a moral obligation and matter of individual responsibility.
Healthism is everywhere in our society, from the labeling of food as “good” or “bad” to the use of influencers on social media to promote the latest fitness trend.
Once you start to notice it, you’ll see it everywhere!
Using morality to argue for health – including rhetoric to shame someone for their body size – can create and exacerbate weight stigma against people with larger bodies.
Weight stigma, simply put, has to do with discriminatory actions and beliefs toward those who weigh more.
And weight stigma has a strong negative relationship on health.
The ultimate problem with healthism is that it has roots in the concept of privilege.
Individual responsibility cannot overcome weight stigma, racism, economic inequality, and lack of access to mental and physical health services. Public health initiatives are necessary to make resources for healthy living and proper medical care available to people from all socioeconomic backgrounds.
So what is the point here? If we want to call out beauty sickness, we need to let go of the notion that health (and weight) should be prioritized and pursued by everyone in our society.
For some of us, this may include acknowledging our thin privilege.
For others, it may include setting boundaries around what comments we will allow others to make about our health, body, or weight, or about other people’s health, body or weight.
To circle back to the beginning, is it possible to live healthy while calling out beauty sickness and its prevalence in our society?
In short – yes.
But we need to take responsibility for pursing health outside of diet culture.
This includes learning how to eat intuitively, move joyfully, and allow for Health At Every Size®.
Lisa Woodruff (RDN, LD, ACSM-EP) is a Waterloo native currently based in the Omaha-Council Bluffs area. She specializes in weight-inclusive food allergy and family nutrition. Lisa Woodruff Nutrition was founded in 2020 to empower families and individuals to eat healthier and save money by utililizing basic cooking skills and nurturing a healthy relationship with food.
Her blog Small Steps for a Healthy Kitchen and Balanced Life and Food Allergy Resources can be found at www.lisawoodruffnutrition.com
Join the conversation.