No More Quick Fixes to Happiness
Updated: Apr 9, 2020
Diet culture doesn’t just sell a certain body type or beauty standard, it sells deeply rooted beliefs about what having those things mean. As an appearance centric culture, we believe that if you’re beautiful, confident, slim, toned, and athletic, you are - (fill in the blanks. Everything positive about life essentially fits.) (ie. Happy, loved, fulfilled, successful, motivated). Diet culture preys on all of our insecurities and tries to sell the quick fix. Tummy tuck tea? Quick fix to happiness - apparently. Hair gummy bears? Quick fix to beauty and love - apparently.
Whether it’s a 2 week crash diet, a month long gym subscription, a weight watchers program, protein shakes, meal substitutes, low calorie food item, or a weight loss expert or dietician, all these products are a part of, and the result of, diet culture. Not everything that’s sold or profited off of in diet culture is bad, and I am not trying to criticize a multi-billion dollar industry (well, not directly). But when marketers and advertisers sell happiness, love, success, and beauty through their products - that’s when I have an issue. All these products and so-called health tips are quick fixes. They are quick fixes to happiness, love, success, beauty, and everything we want in the world.
So often are we seeking the quick, see-the-results-in-two-weeks, you’lll-notice-an-immediate-difference fix.
But what if everything we want in the world is not found in those things? Sure, if you look a certain way, you might feel happy. But that happiness is fleeting. It is based on external factors. It’s a fallacy. Sure, if you ate a certain way, you might feel superior and disciplined. But there are other, more meaningful ways to apply these things to your life.
In my own experience, I know how convincing all the quick fixes are marketed to seem. I believed that if I looked differently, ate differently, exercised differently, then I would be enough. I would be worthy. Whatever article I came across from my google search “how to diet” was fact, and I consumed all that junk without question.
But the thing about trying to change my body, was that once I achieved my so-called “dream body,” I realized that that was all I had cared about in my life. It was the only thing I dedicated all my time and energy to achieving, all I wanted, yet when I got there, all my energy redirected to be fear. I became fearful that I would lose it. No longer was I using all my time and energy to get there, I was using all my time and energy to stay there. The thing about the human body is that it adapts. Consuming less calories than what you’re expending? No problem! Your body will slow down your metabolism to require less calories to function. Well fuck, now x number of calories a day will eventually make me gain weight, and so in order to maintain the way I look now, I need to consume less and expend more. Over and over again. A never-ending downward spiral.
I felt stuck. I felt scared. Not only because of how fucked up my life had become, and I could see that, but because I had no idea to get out of it.
Unlearning the maladaptive beliefs we attach to outward appearances is long and hard work, but I have realized a few things in this process:
1. It was never about the food.
Yes people with medical conditions or allergies may be required to alter their diet to accommodate for their conditions, but my drive to diet was never truly about health. It was about wanting to be beautiful in order to be worthy. To be loved. To be accepted. When I could see that for what it was, it made it easier to separate my journey to find those things outside of my body and whatever I ate/however I moved.
2. Everything diet culture sells is bull-crap.
New health fads? Exactly that - a fad. New superfood? Calm down, if one food had the power to change entire lives, and actually made lasting and meaningful changes, we would all be eating it and would all know about it. Low calorie/fat free/sugar free substitutes? Oof hello artificial sweeteners and chemicals that do so much harm to the gut.
3. Happiness, confidence, and worthiness are not found in things. They are not found in anything or anyone, but found within.
I start every morning choosing to be happy, choosing to change my negative self-talk, and choosing to sit through discomfort to get where I want to be. They exist within me, and therefore, cannot be taken away from me. Regardless of what my outward appearance looks like, these things are always available to me. I just need to actively choose them, and do the fucking hard work to get there.
At the end of the day, diet culture sells quick fixes. But what we hope to gain through buying into their marketing tactics cannot be attained through a quick fix.
You have to put in the hard work, look inward, and fight to relearn what you believe about all these things in order to find lasting and meaningful changes in your life. Not everyone is willing to put in the hard work, and some people will continue seeking quick fixes to happiness for their entire lives. I have no place to stop them, tell them that what they’re doing is wrong, and try and fix them. That’s their own journey. Instead, I choose to continuously look inward, focus on myself, and live through my truth - live through what I know to be true.
The freedom and happiness I have found in this journey of stepping away from diet culture and into a space of self-growth and awareness scares me sometimes. Sometimes I wake up and fear that the happiness I’m experiencing will be taken away from me in an instant.
But I fought long and hard, for years, to get to where I am now. My happiness and freedom exists within me, and no one - no one - can take that away from me.