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Unpacking the ‘anti-diet movement’: domination and strategies of resistance in the broad anti-diet community

journal contribution
posted on 2022-10-26, 03:47 authored by N Jovanovski, Tess Maree Murphy Jaeger
This paper explores how those who adopt an ‘anti-diet’ stance use strategies to challenge weight-loss dieting norms. We used a qualitative survey to examine how a heterogenous collective of feminists, fat activists and health professionals (and those on the margins of these groups) define the source(s) of power underlying diet culture and discuss the strategies they use to challenge it. One hundred and eighteen people (Mage  = 36.67, SD = 10.50) took part. Most were female (n = 112), heterosexual (69%), and residing in Australia (59%). A small proportion (13%) had a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background. Thirty-seven per cent were health professionals, and over half identified as non-diet activists (52%). We generated three themes in our thematic analysis: ‘Describing diet culture: Unpacking cultural and material forms of power,’ ‘Self-care as a political strategy: Refusals and ambivalence in the anti-diet community,’ and ‘Relational strategies: Challenging diet culture in work and everyday interactions.’ Participants viewed diet culture as being reinforced through internalized multi-institutional patriarchal, Eurocentric and capitalist systems. They challenged cultural norms and institutions that reinforce diet culture by being critical of gender norms and rejecting consumerist dieting practices. We argue that the self-care and relational strategies used by participants across communities signify an awkward but unified ‘anti-diet movement.’ Future research should recruit a more culturally and ethnically diverse sample and examine the ‘anti-diet’ movement beyond the Global North context.

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Journal

Social Movement Studies

ISSN

1474-2837

eISSN

1474-2829

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