The Day I Stopped Worshiping Diet Culture
I tried finding salvation in the grocery store aisle labeled “nutritional supplements.”
Whispering fervent prayers to rows of multicolored bottles, each promising to set me free from my lesser-than body, a cage keeping me from a blissful nirvana.
Counted out dollars saved from allowances past, hoping my parents wouldn’t notice that their money was funding a fever dream.
Smuggled capsules and tablets with bottles of diet green tea, swallowing them by the handful in the girls bathroom.
Every week I’d visit that aisle and worship at the feet of laxatives disguised as lollipops, teas that promised to rid me of the padding my ancestors used to survive cold winters under thin coats, supplements that would secure my spot within the ranks of the conventionally beautiful; the envied.
Time and time again I came to this altar; falling to my knees, I confessed tastes of forbidden fruits, a weakness I couldn’t rid myself of no matter how hard I tried, and my incessant need for rushed midnight meals.
Every time I left that sacred space I felt renewed; reassured that this would be the time that made it all worthwhile. Walking back to my car in the early morning hours before school I planned out the ways that would get me closer to who I was “supposed to be.”
And every time, those pills didn’t deliver. The only weight I lost was from tears shed under comforters and sheets, smothered, until I fell asleep, plagued by dreams of my failure. Each morning determined that today was the day that my life would change.
I spent years as a High Priestess to a religion where I was the only believer; spent years atoning for imaginary sins, cleansing myself of these trespasses the only way I knew how.
How could I have known that these prayers, these acts of absolution, were destroying the temple I was truly meant to worship? I answered these questions with repenting acts of self destruction. Once again I found myself at that altar in the grocery store.
Until one day, after too many times of the pains in my stomach bringing me to my knees, too many warnings from doctors of seemingly abstract consequences, did I decide to abandon that brick and mortar temple and return to the living, breathing oasis inside myself.
I am infinitely more than a sycophant.
My days as a diet culture disciple are done.
Photo by Jennifer Burk on Unsplash