'As a plus size model, I reject diet culture. Here's how I navigate the festive season.'

It's official: the holiday season has begun. Michael Bublé awakens from his hibernation, Netflix releases its low-budget holiday movies, and elves are on the shelves watching. Always watching.

Diet culture thrives during the holiday season.

A big part of the celebrations is the food. Whether it's your company's Christmas party or a family event, there is no escaping the emphasis put on food during this period. For some, it's their favourite part; for others, it's their most dreaded.

Diet culture is a big part of our day-to-day lives.

Perhaps your friend has been taught that they need to work off the 'bad' food they have eaten or that by selecting one food over another, they are "being good." Maybe there is a dress in your closet that you’ve had for years that is for 'when you lose weight'. Congratulations! You've been exposed to diet culture. Welcome to the club; we meet every Thursday. BYO snacks.

Watch: 57 per cent of girls compare themselves to other people on social media. Story continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

The Christmas season can create the feeling that people are so happy when seen through their Instagram feed. It's easy to think you're the only one feeling this way. But believe me, this is not the case. I can promise this because I've struggled with it for a long time.


I've learned over the years to avoid topics that may trigger me. More importantly, find out how to get through the holidays with as little harm to my body image as possible.

It's 2022, and we don’t gatekeep coping strategies. Here are a few things that I used to help me navigate the holiday season.

Making sure that I'm prepared for anything and everything.

It may be my anxiety talking, but I like to be prepared. Exits from conversations with relatives who want to tell you about their new fad diet. I also use mindfulness practises if I get triggered; I choose one in advance so I don’t need to think of one on the spot. My go-to is the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique. There are five things I can see, four things I can feel, three things I can hear, two things I can smell, and one thing I can taste.

Challenge negative self-talk.

It's not easy to silence that critical voice inside your head. When I hear myself or a loved one using negative self-talk, I like to call them out on it. I find this an easy way to gently draw attention to the absurdity of these thoughts.


"I’ve put on so much weight, I’ll be single forever."

Would you really want a partner who will only be with you if you’re thin?

"I feel so fat today."

Why do you see fat as a feeling? What are some other feelings you can identify?

"I’ve been so bad today; I’ve eaten so much junk food."

Eating a chocolate bar won’t turn you into a 'bad' person. Food doesn’t dictate what kind of person we are. You get to decide that.

Another one of my favourites is asking, "Would you say that to your best friend?" Chances are you wouldn’t, so why is it okay to say it to yourself?


It’s okay to set boundaries.

I know how hard it can be. I know it can make you feel uncomfortable. I know it's scary, but believe me, it's worth it. You are worth it. Boundaries can be as simple as saying, "Let’s talk about something else" or, "I'm trying to improve how I feel about my body, so I'd rather not talk about dieting or losing weight."

Let social media empower you, not take away your power.

Social media can be a huge trigger for me, but it can also be a really positive influence. I love fat content creators; actively changing the narrative that you can be fat, fabulous, and live your best life is my biggest motivation. Finding accounts that inspire you and drive you to love yourself is one of the greatest joys of social media. If I find I’m feeling down about myself after using Instagram or TikTok, I know it’s time to take a break from these platforms. Disconnect, recharge, and rest till I’m in a better headspace to look at my social media use.

Imagine how life would be different if we actively cared for ourselves just as much as we did for others.

Treat yourself with kindness. I've come a long way from my disordered eating days, but diet talk, calorie counting, vilifying food types, and remarks about other people's (or my own) bodies can still be triggers for me. Self-compassion isn't something I naturally experience; rather, it's something I need to cultivate through practise.

At the end of the day, you aren’t going to remember the time you picked a salad over a burger. You are going to remember the times of happiness and enjoyment, so focus on creating more of those moments.

Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals!

Feature Image: Instagram @learningtolovesarah.

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