Cheat Day, Fit Fam, Clean Eating – the phrases that have infiltrated our society through social media to ensure the next generation of girls are sufficiently self conscious & self loathing. It terrifies me how important these hashtags have become in validating our self worth and I’m so pleased I don’t yet have daughters of my own or younger female siblings to who I would feel that I would have some serious explaining to do.
While there is nothing wrong with striving for fitness and healthy eating – being fit and healthy is of course something positive, the amount of pressure put on young girls to look like our media perception of health is well and truly frightening. The morality surrounding being a certain image to fit in or show off to ones peers ensures that we are developing a generation of young women desperate more than ever to fit in, not just to their immediate friendship groups but to the wider world of social media, where judgement comes from strangers with no context of your life and the ability to troll for miles away.
As younger and younger women (I say women / girls / females but of course this is prevalent for young boys and men too) jump on the social media bandwagon and are increasingly exposed we have to decide where responsibility lies in educating a generation.
While we should refocus people to less convenient food and more accessible healthier options we must be careful not to terrify young people into dividing food into good and bad, into accessing their worth by their food choices and not by their achievements and values. We should be championing nutrition and cooking in schools and at home but don’t make your kids feel frightened that their body may not fit the media perception of beautiful.
When Steff Benton posted this picture of a New Look pyjama set it had originally been mis-merchandised in the teen 915 section of New Look and social media went pretty much into melt down. While it seems that NL officially ignored the problem and let the uproar burn itself out – which it did especially once we realised it wasn’t as originally thought aimed at a teenage girl it does beg to ask wider social questions about the language we use about food. While New Look in a statement to the Daily Mail say that this was tongue in cheek reflecting on today’s lifestyle culture I can’t help but think that at some point we have to say ‘enough is enough’. It might be a cartoon take on an instagram hashtag but the rhetoric still hurts.
We have undeniably some of the worse nutritional habits in history. Convenience food and dining out is still in a boom period and while it’s important we teach young people that pizza is not the basis of a balanced diet, using terminology such as ‘cheat’ doesn’t sit right. While it maybe aimed at young adults, women once again are in the firing line for being policed for what is right and wrong about their bodies.
Let’s not have cheat days or good and bad foods. Let us educate ourselves about nutrition and pave the way for the next generation to have a better relationship with food and our bodies. Make balanced choices, listen to your body but you never deserve to feel guilty or be punished for your food choices.