I used to be one of those people who partook in food shaming, with statements like…
Pasta? No thanks. Too many carbs.
Donuts? No thanks. Too much sugar.
Cheesecake? No thanks. Too much fat.
You get the picture.
Lucky for me, my wonderful husband (boyfriend at the time), amazing group of friends, and loving parents helped me realize that these so called “bad” foods were not the issue, my attitude towards them was. Also lucky for me, social media wasn’t as huge then as it is now.
Because I was (very intimately) familiar with food shaming in the past, I think I am that much more sensitive to it now. And I was reminded of old ways while scrolling through my Facebook and Instagram feeds recently. During this particular scroll through, I saw not one but two different people posting about how dinner was a small bowl of raw veggies [inset stupid smiley face]. One of the pictures even included a description of how this was a dressing-free bowl because dressing has fat. The next day I came across a picture of donuts with ridiculous hash tags, including #fat, #carbs, #donteat, #gross, etc.
So, here’s the thing. The pictures bothered me…a lot. But not as much as the fact that each picture had 10 plus likes and quite a few reinforcing comments.
Social media is a double edged sword. So much good has come from it. So many lives have been changed for the better because of it. But on the flip side, lots of people use Facebook and other social media tools (blogs included) to promote things like food shaming and then receive praise for doing so. This drives me up the wall. And it isn’t limited to “bad” foods either. I see plenty of “good” food shaming too.
Look, my diet isn’t perfect. And I am not a nutritionist or food expert. But I do know that for every like and/or positive comment food shamers get, they see food as the enemy that much more. How do I know this? Because I can put myself in the “bad” food shamers shoes all too easily. Even though it’s been years since I’ve actively food shamed, I still remember how I felt when a coworker praised me for eating “good” foods or when someone agreed that cheesecake did in fact have too much fat.
I’m honestly not sure how to convey the message that the fat in salad dressing helps the body absorb the nutrients from the vegetables. And that a donut every now and then isn’t going to do much damage. I want to reach into my computer screen and shake these people (including the likers and commenters), telling them that food isn’t the enemy, their attitude about it is. I want to help them the way my friends and family helped me.
Until I figure out how to help, I know what I’m not going to do. I’m not going to like their pictures and leave supportive comments. That’s the least we can all do.
What are your thoughts on food shaming and social media? Does it frustrate you? Do you do anything about it?