Learning about diet culture is hands down more helpful than not, but becoming aware of its existence showed me a real disconnect between myself and the people I interact with on a daily basis. Diet culture is everywhere, in our products, in our entertainment, and in our language.
One thing I’ve realized since learning about diet culture is that I can't ignore things like before. Sure, a few years ago I would still pick up on “subtly” rude comments about weight, food and exercise, but everything I heard, I thought to be true anyway. So when one of my friends would make a comment about losing weight, or make a joke about obesity, all it was to me was an awkward moment, where people were criticizing something I am, right to my face. I think overtime it became a habit to disconnect myself from those types of comments, because it wouldn’t make sense for someone, a friend, to criticize and make fun of living in a bigger body TO someone in a bigger body. Situations like these happen so often it makes more sense to think that they are indirectly insulting you instead of just chalking it up to ignorance.
I’ve observed that during these moments I am no longer responding by disconnecting myself from the comments and letting it fuel my ED voice, but I am now responding with anger, at least inside. I am now aware that what they were saying is not fair, nor based in fact, and shouldn’t be normalized. But with that awareness comes the difficult situation of what to do next - how do I socialize with people who have such different core values than myself? And even more confusing, how do I stand up for myself against something that no one else even sees as a problem?
I hear triggering comments constantly, so much so, that I become hopeless that no one understands.
At least before, I could pretend certain comments didn’t bother me, but now that’s not an option. I figure it’s easier to be alone and not just form inauthentic friendships that constantly confuse and challenge my recovery.
Even though it’s lonely now, it was lonely before too, just in different ways. I’m not saying the best thing to do is to cut off all connection to people that don’t understand the danger and intensity of diet-culture messages/weight jokes. I’ll even admit that I probably took it too far by distancing myself from as many people as I did. It’s not their fault that they don’t understand, but it’s also not my responsibility to sacrifice my time, energy and mental health teaching them what comments and beliefs are dangerous.
Being involved in the Empowered community has really helped me maintain social connection and friendships without sacrificing my values and recovery. I know that everyone in this community will not only be empathetic and understanding, but they will be aware of the intensity of dealing with both diet culture and eating disorders. I’m grateful for the Empowered community, because as I navigate how I fit in with other parts of the world, I know that with them, I’ll never be alone.