How To Protect Your Self-Worth In The Midst Of "Diet Culture" & "Thinspiration" Returning
Lately, several headlines have made the bold claim that the thin-obsessed culture that helped define the '90s and early aughts media is back. Apparently, bodies can be trends—and we're now seeing a shift toward waif-like levels of skinniness.
I don't want to give this "trend" any more credence than it's already getting elsewhere on the internet, other than to say that all bodies have value—and that value is not dictated or defined by aesthetics.
But of course it can be challenging not to get sucked in when you see celebrities and models seemingly shrinking before our eyes and on our social media feeds. As a millennial who grew up during one of diet culture's peaks, it feels like dangerous—and very familiar—territory.
This is what I spoke about with body confidence activist and influencer Alex Light, author of You Are Not a Before Picture on this episode of Clean Beauty School. She went viral several years ago for her honest posts about body acceptance in the age of social media and has since crafted a platform in which we can have these important conversations about body neutrality.
"I would love for women—because women predominantly bear the burden of beauty standards—to be able to live their lives free of concern about how they look. We have been taught that if we're not thin or pretty, then we're not worthy," says Light.
While Light describes her own journey as evolving ("It's not a destination," she reminds us), over the years she has accumulated a few body confidence resources. For example, she says, be sure to create a social media feed that celebrates all bodies. And surround yourself with folks (be it in real life or in online communities) who are trying to break down harmful beauty standards.
"This younger generation has access to another narrative that we never did," she says. "There's a counter to 'diet culture' that is really loud and making a lot of noise. I think that can only be a good thing."
And while the culture is hopefully shifting toward the better for future generations, in the meantime be sure to take care of your mental health, especially as diet culture attempts a comeback: "Feeling better about our bodies does not come from changing our bodies; it comes from changing our mindset."
For more of the conversation, tune in.
Heal Your Skin.
Receive your FREE Doctor-Approved Beauty Guide
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.