How did @dietculturesucks start?

I started @dietculturesucks about a year ago as a space to explore and re-examine my relationship with my body and my eating disorder history. Discovering body positivity on instagram was huge for me, Seeing other people confidently embracing bodies that deviated from societal norms opened my eyes to the possibility that I could feel beautiful and happy in my body without losing weight or “getting in shape.” And in learning more about intuitive eating and the influence of diet culture in Western societies, I realized I still had a lot of work to do in regards to my relationship with food, exercise, and my body.

After about a year of immersing myself in the online worlds of recovery and self love, I wanted to have a place to write, post photos of my body that I was initially uncomfortable with, and connect with other people who’d experienced similar things as I had. So @dietculturesucks started out as a place for me to put myself in conversation with others about recovery and body love.

“The body positivity movement is a social justice movement fighting for equality and respect for people in all bodies.”

What is your purpose for @dietculturesucks and when did you realize it was taking off?

My mission is just to help the individuals that come to my page–for me it’s not about the numbers. I’m thrilled that people connect with what I write and that I have an opportunity to explore these topics in a supportive and reflective space. When I started @dietculturesucks I didn’t tell many people as I write about a pretty unique set of experiences, and if those don’t resonate with you, then there’s no need to follow my account. That being said, I broach subjects far broader than my own eating disorder experiences, and many people have told me that even though they personally never struggled with an eating disorder, they find the things I post about to be very helpful. We live in diet culture, and that means that culturally we set people–and particularly young women–up to hate their bodies, worry about food, binge eat, over-exercise, and criticize their appetites and appearances. I think these are experiences many people can understand and relate to.

My account is essentially everything I needed to hear when I was sixteen. The majority of my followers are college and high school girls, and I one purpose I see for my account is for it to counteract other things they’re seeing on their social media feeds. My pictures aren’t meant to be cute, and for people who aren’t used to seeing stomachs that look like mine, the pictures I post might be surprising or different than what they’re used to seeing on instagram. I write a lot about my relationship with food and how it’s evolved as I’ve become an intuitive eater.  I write about things that other people (even in the recovery community) won’t touch, because they’re embarrassing or too specific. My goal is to help people feel less alone, and even if only one or two people that read my post resonates with it, it’s worth it for me.

How do you define your account and what is your relationship like with the body positivity movement as a whole?

The body positivity movement is a social justice movement fighting for equality and respect for people in all bodies. It is vital to center marginalized bodies in body positivity, as the movement was created by and for them. If we water down body positivity and take out the messages of dismantling systemic fatphobia, systemic racism, and systemic sexism, then we aren’t left with anything of substance.

My body is not marginalized. I’ve hated my body and struggled with it, but the difference is that society did not reinforce those messages the minute I stepped outside my door. While I face internal struggles, I’ve never had to deal with the indignities those in larger bodies deal with every day. This is why I don’t describe my account as a body positivity account, and I’m careful in the hashtags I use and the way I approach topics to be clear about this distinction.

I share my experiences and speak about self-love, eating disorder and diet culture recovery, intuitive movement, self-confidence, and other topics along these lines. I center my personal experiences in my account because I’m not a medical professional and I think that my voice comes across strongest when I’m reflecting on my own experiences.

What are your plans for @dietculturesucks in the near future?

I actually just started a blog so I have a place to publish pieces of writing that are too long to fit on instagram and explore topics more in-depth. I’m excited about the work I do, but I always have remind myself that my instagram blog is a hobby, not my job. I try not to put pressure on myself to produce–if I don’t want to post for a week, then I don’t. I do have to set boundaries so that I’m present first and foremost in my real life.

That being said, I do my best to respond to DMs and comments, as it’s important for me to provide any help and support I can to the people who follow me. I see myself as a resource and someone who (hopefully) can put words to the struggles many women share. I’m also always sharing other people’s work and posting any resources I think people might benefit from–I just want people to heal. But I’m not a therapist, and sometimes people treat me like I am, so that is something I’m trying to get better at recognizing and redirecting.

What does it mean to you to be powerful?

Being powerful has to come from your whole self. It’s about knowing your worth intrinsically but also having the confidence to show up proudly in your body. My self-love and recovery journeys helped me reclaim power in the way I show up in the world. For a long time I was confident in my abilities and intellect, and not at all in my body. But I think it’s hard to feel completely powerful when we don’t feel at home in our bodies, and we need to see becoming body confident as a crucial element of reclaiming our power as women.

What is a product or item that you love and why?

I think everyone should read Body Positive Power by Megan Jayne Crabbe. Megan (@bodyposipanda) is a really prominent voice in the body positive community on social media, and her book covers everything–from diet culture to eating disorder recovery to body positivity to fatphobia. She writes in such a relatable and engaging way. I actually had the opportunity to meet Megan while I was abroad in London, which was incredible.