Thigh gap. Sexy abs. Toned arms. Barely there hips. Perky breasts. Apple bottom.
I can think about these standards of “perfection” and laugh, but that comes with being a 37-year old woman with greater goals than a 24-inch waist. However, for a large portion of young girls, celebrity fad diets, weight-loss tricks and miracle foods are positioned as “health” messages and disguised as harmless entertainment.
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It’s quite honestly exhausting, and the truth is that from generation to generation, very little has changed. I can absolutely recall reading through my own favourite teen magazines for tips on how to achieve the perfect flat tummy and the most toned, slender calves. And today, with the addition of social media (Selfies! Instagram likes! Snapchat! Kardashians!) it’s no wonder children are left feeling even more pressure to live up to society’s version of perfection when it comes to body image.
To help bring awareness and attention to this issue, the folks at Multi-Grain Cheerios (General Mills) have named this harmful content Dietainment. Then, they asked young Canadian girls how Dietainment makes them feel, and what message it sends them.
The good news? Through shining a light on Dietainment, more than 16,000 Canadians have showed their support by signing the online petition to drive change within the Canadian media industry.
Make no mistake: Dietainment needs to be exposed!
One of the best defenses against Dietainment is knowing it when we see it. Unhealthy diet messages disguised as entertainment are easy to miss, because they often hide in plain sight. Examples of Dietainment include messages or advertisements that do the following:
– Promise unrealistically fast weight loss that sounds too good to be true
– Lack valid scientific research to support claims
– Use over-the-top, implausible headlines like “slim down your belly fat in just a week”
There are a few things you can do NOW. First, sign the petition to help stop Dietaiment. Currently, two content publishers – Faze Magazine and Divine.ca – have committed to keeping their magazines and websites Dietainment free!
Next, walk in your kids’ shoes. Get a better sense of how content may have a harmful impact on your children by monitoring where, when and how often your kids are exposed to Dietainment. For example, have a “#StopDietainment Social Hour” where together, you can uncover images of Dietainment found in your homes or on social media.
I’ll be back shortly with tips on how to combat Dietainment. In the meantime, for more information and to sign the petition, visit worldwithoutdieting.ca.