by Laura Elizabeth Charleston
A phrase that gets thrown around every year without fail, as people make promises to themselves to make changes in their lives and steps towards becoming a `better’ person. I dread the beginning of each year. Why? Because I suffer with Anorexia Nervosa, emphasising the fact that I struggle massively with my weight and I am preoccupied with food and my body image – including other aspects in my life too. Most people make it their New Year’s resolution to lose weight and to begin eating healthier or to take up more exercise. It’s very tough to hear about other people engaging in these things when I’m trying to learn to do the opposite. Sigh.
Following on from this, it becomes very difficult when dieting advertisements are being put in my face or when leaflets are being shoved through the letterbox encouraging people to sign up to clubs to lose weight, where they’re promising weight loss and happiness. They aren’t so easy to ignore, either because they are EVERYWHERE. Christmas has literally only just ended, yet I’ve already seen multiple weight-watchers ads. Other people dieting makes my Anorexic voice become louder and more controlling because `other people are dieting, so it must be okay’. It makes me feel as though I should be doing the same. Dieting becomes normalised and it makes it harder for me to get a glimpse into what a `normal’ eating pattern is like. I fully understand that people may choose to diet; I feel that it should be more of a private choice instead of one that is advertised greatly throughout the month.
As a society, we are pressured into losing weight and it saddens me that vulnerable people will turn to these fad diets just because they maybe ate `more’ over the Christmas period. Not only does this send out a bad message to people, it tells people that it’s bad to eat more and that we should kind of `make up for it afterwards’ by dieting and eating healthier when that isn’t. We should be encouraging self-love and body positivity, but instead we are doing the opposite and It is wrong. With the beginning of a New Year, why don’t we phase out dieting culture and promote happiness and health instead? People struggle enough with Eating Disorders, body dysmorphia and low self-esteem, so we should be fighting our hardest to combat these issues. Why can’t we let people enjoy the festivities without making them feel obligated to `change their ways’ later?
Losing weight doesn’t equal eternal happiness and it doesn’t solve all of life’s problems or difficulties, either.
I want to remind Eating Disorder sufferers, like myself, that we must put ourselves and our needs first. It’s a necessity and it certainly isn’t selfish to put ourselves first. As difficult and impossible as it may be at times. Most of the people claiming to be dieting will probably last a few days before returning to old habits. Dieting often doesn’t lead to the same consequences as Eating Disorders do. An Eating Disorder is not a diet, it’s an illness. Another important reminder is that we are poorly, whereas other people may not be, which is why we need to continue eating and continue our fights towards getting better.