It’s easy to blame our current fat phobia on the Kardashians shilling for Fit Tea, or Gwyneth Paltrow with her recipes for Ayurvedic golden milk and spirulina-infused smoothies. After all, these women embody the unrealistic physical ideal we’re told to strive for—and they’ve built their brands by simultaneously inspiring and terrorizing their (mostly female) audiences. I know this because I spent the first decade of my career ghostwriting celebrity lifestyle books and covering “wellness” (as we now call dieting) for women’s magazines; I have seen how the shiny-haired influencer/goddess is made. But our current thinking about weight—and the belief that we need to control it by eating “clean,” home-cooked, restrictive meals—originates from a less glamorous but far more influential group of people: The mostly white, mostly male, mostly thin food writers and chefs who have been setting the agenda of what they call the “good food movement” for the past couple of decades. And in the process, they’ve turned being thin—and eating in the labor-intensive way they think guarantees thinness—into a moral imperative.
I explore how this happened in my new piece, Meet the Thin, White Men Who Rebranded Dieting as Wellness, on BitchMedia. Read the whole essay here.
We need to talk more about how many food rules targeted at women come from men who will never have our bodies or wrestle with our cultural expectations. At its core, diet culture is about controlling women’s bodies. It was easy (or easier) to recognize when it was Dr Atkins. Wellness messaging tends to come from supposedly woke, liberal men advocating for better environmental policies and that doesn’t always start out looking like misogyny or classism. Because, yes, I’m talking about the food world’s darlings: Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, Jamie Oliver, even Anthony Bourdain. So we need to tease out how that movement got in bed with the “war on obesity” and created a new and even more unattainable standard about perfect eating for women (especially moms) to torture ourselves over.⠀
PS. I’m a little bummed they picked this picture because I freaking LOVE Samin Nosrat; yes she’s friends with Pollan but she’s so not elitist, not body shaming and frankly, downright radical in how she talks and writes about food. So just know I’m definitely not putting her on blast — that skinny white guy next to her, though…