• emmanuellegammage

A breakup letter to Diet Culture

Dear diet culture,

We’ve been together for far too long now, and I’m ready to let you go

I can’t believe I ever loved you, admired you, wanted you

I can’t remember exactly where or how we met - it feels as though you have always been a part of me

Like a classic movie on the TV, you were always lurking in the background

Your voice slowly grew louder as I aged until I could no longer hear anything else

You rid me of being a teenager

You encompassed all of my thoughts

I could never escape your grip

And honestly, I was too scared to let you go

You taught me to fear food

You taught me to fear fat

You taught me to be less

You taught me to idealise thin

You taught me that food was ‘good’ and ‘bad’

You taught me to fixate on numbers

You taught me that my weight determined my worth

Clean eating

‘How many calories is in that?’

‘You’re so good, you’re always eating healthy’

‘You’re so slim, you must be super healthy’

‘You’ve lost weight, you look great’

‘You need to lose weight if you want to be loved, successful and happy’

‘You need to lose weight to be beautiful’

‘I feel fat today’

‘I’ll work it off at the gym'

Calories aren’t a measurement of my morality

You cannot judge my health on appearance

I was at my most unhealthy when I was skinniest, contrary to what you taught me

I don’t need to lose weight to be beautiful

Fat isn’t a feeling

Eating vegetables and salad does not make me any better of a person

I don’t need to earn my food with exercise

Your words scarred me, it has scarred us all

It’s time to tear you down

I should have been laughing with my friends over my lunch

I should have been eating ice cream crying over boys

I should have been discovering who I was

I should have been studying instead of sneaking in sit-ups

But instead,

I lied when my mum asked if I had eaten dinner

I pretended I wasn’t hungry when I went out with friends

I made a salad instead of ordering takeout

I hid the scales when I’d weigh out my food

See, I knew even then that you were destructive

I hid our relationship all in the name of ‘health’

You taught me that the less I weighed, the healthier I was. You lied

Starvation, obsession and restriction isn’t healthy

I now see that health is not determined by our weight

You don’t discriminate between a size 6 or a size 16

We’re all the same to you,

Something to mould, to change, to fix, to profit from

Your job is to create insecurities

You are toxic

I cried and cried over you because I could never live up to your standards

Even though I gave you everything

I gave you family dinners, parties, baking with my grandma, lunch in the common room, beach trips, Christmas lunch,

I gave all of it you

I realise now that I don’t have fond memories of you, like a relationship should

I remember when I couldn’t bring myself to go to the beach with my brothers and sisters because it was a spontaneous plan and I hadn’t fit in a workout yet. I was too scared to enjoy my day with ice-cream, sunshine and love because I hadn’t earned it.

I remember when I invited my friends over before we started sixth form as a chance to bond, everyone ordered Chinese and I had already prepared a salad beforehand so that I wouldn’t be tempted to stray off my diet.

I remember parents made a roast dinner and I refused to eat a roast potato. They begged me but I thought it would make me fat. I physically couldn’t put it in my mouth because I was so scared.

You did that to me

Does it make you feel any kind of remorse?

My hair thinned out

My nails turned brittle

I lacked energy

I was constantly cold and dizzy

My period stopped and is still yet to return

My body literally stopped functioning properly, because of you

I will struggle to bear children, because of you

But somehow, I turned to you for comfort

You punished me for flaws that I could not control

You tricked me into believing I was in control

When it was you all along

Why did you do this to me?

Was the profit worth it?

Do you ever think of me?

Because you have scarred me forever

For what?

You wanted hip bones, a thigh gap, abs, a perky bum and slim legs

I had to craft and chisel my body to live up to your beauty standards

Even now, years later, I still find remnants of us

You find ways to creep back into my life through old photos, journal entries and Instagram adverts

No more

I am worthy

I no longer earn my mouthfuls

I no longer feel guilt

I no longer rely on you

I no longer place my worth on my weight

I appreciate what my body has endured and its fight for survival every day

I choose happiness

I choose freedom

I give myself permission to completely and utterly,

Come as I am.

I’m breaking up with you.

Emmanuelle ❀

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