Do or (die)t: how diet culture harms women

Thumbnail Image
Walker, Caroline
Rutter, Emily Ruth
Issue Date
Thesis (B.?)
Honors College
Other Identifiers
CardCat URL

Dieting, a long-held standard for successful weight loss, health maintenance, and beauty attainment, is a potentially harmful practice that not only hints at a societal requirement of a certain body type in order to fit into American culture. While diets affect millions of people across the United States, women are especially targeted due to years of gender norms that expect women to look a certain way in order to be considered attractive. Movies, television, social media, and culture reinforce the idea that fat bodies are bad and there is one perfect body type that everyone must pursue. The body positive movement has helped to bridge gaps between culture and plus sized people, but still has progress to make in unconditional acceptance of all people and bodies. This thesis examines dieting in the context of American culture, and how the practice is used to control women and their bodies. Although the body positivity movement has potential to challenge these standards, there is still an overarching ideal of a favorable body shape and size. In conclusion, increased diversity is an effective solution, albeit difficult to achieve. This diversity, in order to be effective, must be in more than just body type, and must include categories of race and ability level as well.