The Capitalist Machine aka Diet Culture

Have you ever thought about how many messages you see in one day related to diets, weight loss, eating “clean,” the latest exercise trend, cleanses, or some new means to “fix” or change your appearance, size, or shape!? If you think about the billboards you see when you’re taking the bus or train, or while you are driving, the ads you see on social media, not to mention the people you follow who may be self-proclaimed “wellness experts” - it can be really overwhelming! You are also inundated with the advertisements you see on television – whether they are direct advertisements or subliminally placed via product placement into movies or shows. Let alone the incessant diet talk that often happens between friends or family members, or the weight loss challenge or “wellness initiatives” that are being promoted at your workplace. 

We are taking in these subliminal messages almost every moment of every day. There is one powerful motivator that fuels all of the messaging that surrounds diet culture and weight stigma and that is: MONEY. 

Capitalism is a system of economy and government in which trade and industry operate for profit. For profit. That is what sets capitalism apart from other systems - it is FOR PROFIT. We live in a capitalist society, which means that the underlying motive for the vast majority of business ventures is the bottom line: making money and more importantly, making a profit. That means that all marketing is designed to convince you that you should spend your money on something. 

One of the most alluring ways that businesses pull you into their marketing schemes is by creating stories or pictures that cause you to feel bad about yourself, feeding into your inner critic or what I have come to call my monster. These advertisements communicate to you, the consumer, that there is something wrong with you, that you are flawed or needing “fixing” of some variety. The message is that whatever the “problem” is, only this product (or diet, or exercise class, or nutrition bar, or book) will solve or cure. 

Think about the latest ad or commercial you saw. Or maybe do a social experiment for a few minutes right now and look at some of the ads on your social media feed, or on television. What do you see? What feelings do you notice coming up? Do you feel more in love with yourself? More valued for who you are? Or do you notice more feelings of self-loathing or disdain? Do the ads conjure up feelings of shame or cause you to feel the need to pick yourself apart? 

Diet culture and the capitalist machine want your money and your time. They may try to convince you that they care about your health or well-being, but that is just a bunch of malarkey. Diet culture and the capitalist machine could care less about whether or not their products work for you, in fact it is better for them if they don’t. Yes, you heard me right. They want you to fail at their diets and internalize that failure as something that is wrong with you – like not enough self-control or motivation. As a result, you keep coming back for more and spending more of your precious money on their defective products. This leads to you feeling like more of a failure and results in their pockets growing deeper and deeper. 

So next time, before you get out your wallet and fork over your hard-earned cash, think about what this product or diet or cleanse or lifestyle change is supporting, how it impacts society, and ultimately whether it is backing you up in your journey to recovery, self-acceptance, and/or a greater sense of worthiness or belonging. Or is it getting in the way? Each one of you reading this is deserving of taking up space – as much as you need, being treated with respect and dignity, and living a life that is meaningful to you and brings you peace. You are deserving of being set free from diet culture and the hold it may have on you.