Diet and Culture

A discussion of diet culture, its origins, ideals and their meanings.

This paper discusses the diet culture, first outlining the origins of contemporary diet culture. It then reviews the feminist critique of this culture, as a political agenda reflecting on women?s place in society. . The goal of this paper is to answer the questions: What is “diet culture”? What are its origins? What impact does it have on the everyday lives of young women? How do feminist writers relate to the prevailing diet culture?

The Origins of the Diet Culture
Feminist Critique of the Diet Culture
Diet Culture in Israel
“Diet culture is the cultural force disciplining the female form and regulating its size, contour and texture. Though diet culture pertains to both sexes, its influence is far more significant for women than for men (Chernin, 1981, Goodman, 1995, Wolf, 1990). Diet culture encompasses the range of practices, beliefs and images that work together to direct women towards the disciplinary goal of body regulation. Under the current “tyranny of slenderness” (Chernin, 1981) women are forbidden to become large or massive. The current body of fashion is taut, small-breasted, narrow hipped and of a slimness bordering on emaciation. It is a silhouette that seems more appropriate to an adolescent than to an adult woman (Bartky, 1998). In order to possess bodies of the desirable size, women must maintain strict control of their food intake and expenditure of energy. Dieting is used to control the calories entering the body; exercise is used to increase caloric expenditure and shape the body’s flesh to the desired contour.”