The downside of perfection + why we need to opt out

Recently I wrote about why we need to change the way we talk about dieting. I made the argument that it's not just a 'thing' that women do, it's a culturally-encouraged practice that dishonors our humanity on a regular basis. 

I received a lot of positive feedback about it, which tells me that more people are finally awakening to the fact that diet culture take a big toll on our lives. 

I’ve used writing to dive deeper into the ways I've seen diet culture dishonor our individual and collective humanity. Here, I explore perfection. If you've ever been on a diet or tried to lose weight before (and who hasn't??), you'll know exactly what I mean when I say:

Diet culture demands perfection and we try hard to achieve it. Really hard.

Think about all the times you've counted calories or started a new workout plan with the hope that, if you do it perfectly, you'll get the body of your dreams.

When I was in the throes of weight loss obsession, I felt like I was wearing a leash that would only allow me to move so far. If I made the wrong move I'd have to start all over again...and then beat myself up as I stumbled back to the starting line.

It was demoralizing and depressing and I felt like an expert in failing.

This quest for the perfect body is just one of the many ways our culture reminds us that something is inherently wrong with us and we need to spend a lifetime trying to fix our brokenness.

I believe this is violent against ourselves and others.

And if you think the word 'violence' is too strong, I'd argue it's not.

Restricting food? Violence.

Working out beyond exhaustion? Violence.

Mocking fat people? Violence.

Diet culture and dieting destroy our ability to have a peaceful relationship with food, our bodies, and every other aspect of ourselves. We are forever engaged in some form of self-improvement.

I'm tired of it. I don't want this anymore for me or for you. I don't want this for my 2 nieces or any other little girls.

The idea that eating too much is considered a mistake for which you have to forgive yourself is absurd to me. The idea that skipping a workout (or 3 or 4 or 5) is an offense for which you should be punished is preposterous. 

I don't know about you but I want to be as immersed as possible in my life and body. I want to know what it's like to be fully alive and awake.

Before I sign off, I want you to know this: we don't have to keep trying to live up to these expectations. We can opt out. I'm committed to rejecting the status quo that keeps us bound up in rules, 'shoulds', and impossible standards.

I want and need to live the rest of my life as the perfectly flawed human being I am.


P.S. If you want to begin unlearning harmful messages about food and bodies, check out Write To Get Free. This is a self-paced 4-week experience where we use writing to explore themes like truth, anger, reclamation, and liberation from diet culture.

If you loved this post and want to read more like every week, get on the list: