One way both hyper-capitalism and diet culture work on us is to provide a vague promise that if we buy this or that and do this or that we will somehow avoid or postpone death.
It’s true, there is a fair amount of evidence that if we eat nutritious foods, move our bodies regularly, avoid stress when possible, have meaningful relationships, avoid toxins (smoking, drugs, alcohol, pollutants) and cultivate a positive outlook on life, we can have some small influence on our longevity. It is important to note, these practices have far less (almost nothing) to do with the size of our bodies than what diet culture has led us to believe AND for most of us, even these behaviors are decided by our societal status and situation (so they are about PRIVILEGE). But, one COULD say that it is possible to strive for these healthy behaviors — and to have some small influence on our longevity. However, no amount of “healthy living” is a match for the force of nature that is death which is — as anyone who has lived and lost loved ones knows — random, uncertain and the most certain event in every human life.
Hyper-capitalism and diet culture both take advantage of the terror and confusion that this certainty and randomness of death causes.
I’ve heard many people say they aren’t “afraid of death.” I am unconvinced by most of them. Maybe they have a strong faith, a trust in the natural process of the birth-death cycle, or just a lack of will-to-live. Whatever they think they have, I don’t buy it. It is natural and human to be afraid of death— both our own and those we love. And it is in the denial of that fear of death that capitalism and diet culture can sneak into our psyches and promise us we can somehow avoid it only IF….
I do not write this to "be negative" or to encourage anyone to "give up." I write this because the way capitalism and diet culture tell us we can somehow outwit death is, to me, the grossest form of gaslighting we are all being subjected to on a daily basis. We have a normal, natural fear of death. We are told that if we buy this or force our bodies to comply with that, we do not have to fear death. This is a lie and it is gaslighting a truth that is fundamental to our very nature. This gaslighting literally drives us insane -- causes eating disorders, causes disordered relationships to movement and food and our bodies, makes us hate our bodies and ourselves. This gaslighting causes us to become unhealthy.
So, no, I do not write this to "be negative" or encourage anyone to "give up." I write this to encourage everyone to see through the lies of hyper-capitalism and diet culture so that we can actually be healthier, embrace our true nature, and face our fear and confusion surrounding death with dignity and grace.
JodiAnn Stevenson lives in the U.S., in the Northwest Corner of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, on The Big Lake. Her writing has appeared in numerous venues since 1996. She is the author of three published chapbooks of poetry: The Procedure (March Street Press, 2006); Houses Don’t Float (Habernicht Press, 2010); and Diving Headlong Into A Cliff of Our Own Delusion (Saucebox, 2011). Her mixed-genre work Marina Abramovic Is My Mother is available in the form of a short-run podcast. She has also produced eight chapbooks of poetry for The Broken Nose Collective which she co-founded in 2013. JodiAnn was founder and co-managing editor of the feminist micro-press, Binge Press and its sister journal, 27 rue de fleures, from 2004 until 2017.
A (more or less) complete list of publications and appearances: