Diet culture needs to die

Jenna Jordan, Opinion Writer

No matter how much plastic surgery or implants you get or how many diets you try, the American ideal of nicely tanned skin, long, slender legs with toned abs and long, flowing, silky hair is simply unreachable for most people. We live in a society where being skinny is the ultimate goal. Boys and girls in America grow up thinking that it is “perfection.” I’ve spoken to so many people who have body image issues because of this stigma around having body fat over five percent. It’s ridiculous to believe that everyone can look the same. Beauty comes in so many shapes and sizes around the world.

Nearly every day at school, I hear someone complain about their weight. No matter their age, body fat percentage, gender identity, sexuality or socio-economic status, I’ve heard a little from everyone. Society tells us that when we want or need to lose weight, it requires restricting ourselves. For some people that may mean cutting out desserts or not binge-watching Netflix all day. For others, restrictions can be taken to an extreme. Whether it be from the pressure of others or a self-compelled action, many do not lose weight in a way that is in any way shape or form, healthy.

As teens, we are not yet done developing mentally or physically. Not providing ourselves with proper nutrition now can affect our health in the future.

Any diet that cuts out entire food groups is detrimental to one’s health. Minerals and nutrients that come from foods help different parts of our bodies run the way they need to. The lack of what your body needs may also affect your mental health. Extreme dieting oftentimes leads to the development of eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating disorder. Approximately 10 percent of American teenage girls suffer from an eating disorder, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Going on a diet as a teen is not always the right solution. You should only be restricting your food intake if you are advised by or have spoken with a healthcare professional about it. If you want to lose weight healthily, start with a gym membership or even just going on a walk in your neighborhood and try to choose water or low sugar drinks over sodas and sweet tea.

If you have questions or just need someone to talk to, the first person to contact is your primary care physician or another trustworthy adult. If you feel the pressure of the outside world closing in on you, it could also be beneficial to talk to another teen who wants to help. You can do this through the organization Teen Line. Phone number, text code and email for it can be found at teenlineonline.com.

High school diet culture is an unnecessary and detrimental societal pressure for teenagers. No matter what, you will have people trying to tear you down, but you should know that there are people who are there to build you back up.