Remaining positive about our bodies and keeping our head above the water of diet culture is a constant struggle.
[Content Note:This article will discuss the use of the word “diet” in both a general sense and a restriction sense. The point of this post is to help dismantle diet culture and educate those on the effects of it. I understand if just reading the word is triggering for some folx. Please take care of yourself.]When a doctor asks you about your diet they mean, of course, what foods you consume to keep you alive. Unless you’ve told them that you’re dieting, they generally don’t mean the restriction of calories and foods that your body needs (until of course, they do meant that). This is probably the most neutral manner in which we use this word and it’s still triggering and violent. The word diet needs to be stricken from our vocabulary until we’ve moved beyond diet culture as a society. Diet in the most neutral terms means just the food you eat. “My diet consists of meats, veggies, fruits, and grains,” for example or “I’m trying to maintain a vegan diet”. This is however, not how we use the word most often.The vast majority of the time when we speak of diet, we are talking about dieting. “How’s your diet going? Did you try this new diet? I’m on a new diet!” are all common phrases that we hear all around us in our everyday lives. Which is why if someone asks you how your diet is and they legitimately mean “are you getting enough nutrients” most of us make the immediate association to “are you restricting enough?”Diet is a weighted word that has come to mean, by and large, the act of dieting and food restriction. Even in body positive, no-diet talk spaces, using the word diet to speak of food choices colors all further conversation with the idea of restriction and all that comes with it. Well meaning suggestions are suddenly suspect and in the back of our mind we hear that programmed, little voice that is telling us that whatever we’re eating, it’s too much, it’s not right. Kicking up this mental storm causes us to fall back into the same habits that diet culture supports. What Sonya Renee Taylor in her book, The Body Is Not An Apology calls the “Body-Shame Profit Complex (BSPC)” which speaks of how shame is used against us but is also the same mechanism as diet culture that sets the stage for companies to profit from out our self-hate. It is also a tool that keeps people, especially femme presenting people, oppressed. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a negative effect on masculine folx, because it does, it is just that it is marketed much more heavily to femme folx.
In honor of Women’s History Month, check out the work of these BIWOC comics writers.
As a medium and an industry, comics aren’t always kind to women, especially women of color. Mainstream comic book companies seem to hire them once in
Chinese medicine is such an important part of my life and my identity, so when I see it become a white people trend, I immediately have a lot of questions.
By Sally Yue Lin“Have you tried acupuncture yet?” I overheard one white girl asking another. Frowning skeptically, I thought to myself: first they come for our food and now our medicines too? For someone like me, a Han Chinese woman who grew up with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the increasing trendiness of some TCM practices—such as acupuncture—makes me uncomfortable and concerned.When I was a little girl, my mother would feed me candies between sips of Kam Wo tea to coax me into drinking the bitter medicine. My pópó would rub my forehead tenderly with Tiger Balm when I had a headache. Of course, we did use Western medicine—such as birth control and immunizations—but only when absolutely necessary. In the past few years, TCM has become more popular with non-Asians across North America, which makes me worried that it is becoming commodified in a similar way as yoga. If so, who is telling the stories behind this ancient tradition and who gets to make money off it? For example, the increasing popularity of the cupping technique among swim bros and white celebrities is intriguing for many white people who view it as an odd curiosity to gawk at. These articles may be well-intentioned and the readers genuinely curious, but they still Other those of us who have been using cupping for generations. It shows how many non-Asian clients see TCM as an exoticized alternative to their sterile and familiar Western medicine.But for us Asians, these practices that we grew up with are often what we are most comfortable with. Herbal teas and Tiger Balm are what we turn to when we are feeling unwell; their taste and scents carry deep emotional meanings, family stories, and connections to our cultures’ philosophical and religious beliefs. Chinese medicine is such an important part of my life and my identity, so when I see it become a White people trend, I immediately have a lot of questions. Let’s first look at who gets to tell these stories. The schools that offer “Oriental Medicine” degrees often employ white teachers and practitioners. Are these really the right people to be sharing the historical, religious, philosophical basis of TCM with their predominantly white students? Asians have to work harder in white spaces to prove our abilities, so why shouldn’t white people have to work harder in Asian spaces to prove their credibility? We must challenge these white TCM teachers practitioners and test their worth in order to keep them accountable. We need to be protective of our medicinal heritage and be cautious of white people who want to “discover” these practices and claim it as their own, just because they find it “interesting”.
Elizabeth Acevedo's "The Poet X" brings to light the beauty and nuances of teenage Afro-Latinx experiences.
By Ruby MoraLiterature was a pivotal part of my upbringing. My mother read books to me and planted this love early on in my life. I read mostly young adult fiction and poetry in high school, but I’ve realized over the last five years or so that most of the YA literature I grew up reading was not only written primarily by white authors, but also had main characters that were white, and if there were people of color, they ended up being severely stereotypical sidekicks to the main characters. Even years after my time in high school, the lack of work written by marginalized voices in the literary world is still an unfortunate trend, but there has been a progressive movement, especially in 2017 and this year, where there were many significant works released by women authors of color: “Her Body and Other Parties” by Carmen Maria Machado, “Peluda” by Melissa Lozada-Oliva, and “Don’t Call Us Dead” by Danez Smith, just to name a few. One book, specifically a novel-in-verse, and its March release is already sparking such progressive changes in the literary world. “The Poet X” by author and immaculate poet Elizabeth Acevedo provides a unique form of storytelling through poetry, while centering the story around Xiomara Batista, a Dominican teen living in Harlem who processes her surroundings and occurences within her family and outside of it through poetry, in an environment where she states she feels unseen and unheard.
Instead of viewing Black Panther’s success as an opportunity to complain about something that is lacking in our communities, non-Black people of color should appreciate the work it took to create something of its caliber.
By Sanjana LakshmiIt’s been a few weeks since “Black Panther” came out, and its reception has been deservedly overwhelmingly positive. Ryan Coogler’s filmis more than just another superhero movie: it is a blockbuster film that centers the experiences, cultures, and strength of Black folks in a way we have rarely, if ever, seen before.However, one particular response to the film by non-Black people of color has bothered me: the idea that we need to react by saying “where’s our Asian-American superhero movie,” or “where’s our Latinx superhero movie” (note that the latter doesn’t usually imply that they are looking for afro-latinx representation). All people of color deserve media representation, but this is not a constructive critique of ”Black Panther”; these concerns were rarely, if ever, raised during the decades of primarily white superhero movies. The fact that these questions are being posted in reaction to a successful Black superhero movie that is breaking the box office is no more than thinly veiled anti-Black racism.“Black Panther” was not simply handed to the Black community. Black folks fought for this movie. Media representation of the Black community has been historically stereotypical, if not offensive and racist, from caricatures to hyper-sexualization. Wakanda’s portrayal as a technologically advanced and successful African nation untouched by the devastation of colonialism and imperialism is groundbreaking in itself, and the movie’s depiction of Black women stands in contrast to the stereotypes that have been pervasive in our media.These long-awaited portrayals, and their positive reception, need to be celebrated. This is not the time for non-Black people of color to be saying, “what about us?” Black directors, producers, writers, and actors have been fighting for this kind of representation for decades. Black Panther’s success was not an easy feat.It is important to note, too, that there is an extraordinary amount of anti-Blackness in non-Black communities of color. In the South Asian American community, anti-Blackness comes in many forms: the billion-dollar skin-whitening industry, the attacks on African immigrants within the South Asian subcontinent, the model minority myth, and overt as well as subtle colorism. This only scratches the surface of entrenched racism within one non-Black community of color—all of this while Black communities have historically not only supported, but actively fought for the rights of non-Black people of color.