Thursday, May 11, 2006

No Diet Day

Sometime last week was International No Diet Day, whatever day of the week May 6th was. In my experience No Diet Day's are most commonly observed at Universities, and usually by eating cake, chocolate and ice-cream. I forgot it at

While that's not quite so bad as marking no diet day by giving away diet coke and fruit (it's what happens when you have an anti-feminist women's rights officer). I'm not at all convinced that it's useful. Unfortunately, for so many women (and I'm certainly not exempt) the opposite of dieting is bingeing. Food and control are so tightly linked that the only other alternative to controlling your food intake is losing control of your food intake.

The opposite of dieting is actually making food about food. I know that's an uphill battle. I know the vast majority of women students are nowhere near there. But I don't think having one day a year where you're 'allowed' to eat chocolate is a step in that direction.

I also think No Diet Day, as currently marked, can very easily be commodified (and sponsored by food manufacturers) and removed of it's political meaning.

I've got a really good example of this, with an article from ABC in Australia:

In the 936 office Drive Producer, the lovely Lynn, got up especially early to spend most of her morning baking, in order to provide her colleagues with the most delectable Pavlova and cake.

Annie Warburton and the team from Mornings spoke with Stephen Dimsey, State Manger of Life Be In It Tasmania, to get some sensible tips for those who enjoy their food but want to stay in shape.
Then later on Stephen says: "What we're saying is that whatever body shape you are, make sure you're a healthy body shape," Talk about making the kind of sense that's not; I don't think I could translate that into English if you paid me.

I would like to suggest that women (and men) could make every day No Diet Day, by stopping talking about food in a moralistic way, and stopping making deogatory comments about your body.

While I know for a lot of people that wouldn't stop the way you feel about food and your body, stopping reinforcing that mindset is an important first step.

3 comments:

  1. I always hated that day too, though at the time I hated it because it said that for one day it was ok to be fat. But the rest of the time I should be on a diet.

    Now I hate it because I think the concept of dieitng as we know it is stupid. A diet is just the food you eat all the time, not a temporary action.

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  2. My understanding was that INDD was created a few years after the Great American Smoke Out (and comparable international events.) In other words, it's a day to do a trial run at getting rid of a dangerous obsession/addiction. Part of the education surrounding the keeping of that day should include direct attacks on the association of dieting with health at all, let alone making "healthy" living equivalent to dieting. There are many metaphors, like smoking or drug addiction, we could use to make the point more clear. Certainly, diet pushers adn the pro-diet medical mainstream have a whole lot in common with tobacco companies in this regard. But, first, we'd have to have a U.S. celebration of the day, period. Other than a few isolated university events, nothing's happened with INDD in the U.S. for well over a decade. Yet another reason to move to Europe/Canada...

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  3. My critique isn't so much with the concept, but with

    I actually think it's mainly a result of how very fucked your average middle-class white girl's attitude towards food is. I speak from experience when I saw it's hard to imagine anything outside the bingeing/dieting dichotomy

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