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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

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OPINION | Diet culture surrounds us: How do we escape? 

“Satisfaction can rarely be reached by a number on a scale. So why does weight loss feel like an unwinnable game?” (Gabe Darley)

Content Warning: The following article discusses themes of diet culture and severe weight loss.

As the new year begins, diet culture and weight loss are a topic on everyone’s minds. In 2023, 37% of Americans’ New Year’s resolutions involved losing weight. In preparation for skimpy occasions like Tulane’s Mardi Gras block party and spring break, students may vow to drop a few pounds to feel confident in outfits. 

Tulane students are not alone — we are living in a culture obsessed with being thin. Whether shown in the movies or TikToks, weight loss is shoved down your throat: thin is pretty, “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” 10 ways to lose fat fast. 

The messages worsen mental health, negative body image and disordered eating, particularly for young women who engage with this type of content. Companies know that they can capitalize on people’s — often women’s — insecurity. 

In 2022, the diet products market made $135.7 billion in the U.S. This number does not include the thousands of gimmick workout equipment, mysterious protein powders and weighted hula hoops that promise to slim fat off the waist.  

Further, Ozempic’s increased presence in the medical field and widespread use amongst celebrities promotes an image of particularly fast weight loss. It may even seem that weight loss is impossible without the drug. Influencer GG Gharachedaghi, who boasts over 880,000 Instagram followers, has spoken candidly online about using Ozempic to go from 138 to 110 pounds. 

How can women combat diet culture when it is ubiquitous? Satisfaction can rarely be reached by a number on a scale. So why does weight loss feel like an unwinnable game? 

Celebrities and influencers play a crucial role in unrealistic body standards. Kim Kardashian, who has a personal trainer, dietician and more than enough time to dedicate to achieving the perfect body, has advertised appetite suppressant lollipops in the past. Ultimately, the lollipops did not give her those results; rather, her wealth provided greater access to wellness programming as well as cosmetic procedures. 

The diet market is not designed to better one’s health; it is designed to make money. Money is made when you remind women that they “need” this. Women need to be thin. They need to lose 10 pounds because their happiness depends on it. Money is made when you acquire a lifetime customer by telling a preteen girl she isn’t pretty if her thighs touch. The diet market is using influencers and celebrities with the “perfect body” to falsely advertise to young women. 

It is the responsibility of public personas to be truthful about their appearances. While there is no quick fix to diet culture, honesty from celebrities and influencers may help combat unrealistic expectations. 

It is also imperative that young women take steps to deprogram their adherence to this culture. Women can choose to limit their time on social media as well as follow influencers who are transparent with their wellness routines. Positive self-talk is proven to increase self-esteem and general wellbeing. 

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