International No Diet Day
Mary Evans Young in 1992
International No Diet Day is dedicated to body acceptance and focuses on body shape diversity and fat acceptance. Mary Evans Young had dealt with anorexia nervosa and had been bullied for being fat at a young age. In adulthood, she began working to help others accept their bodies. After reading about a teenager who had hanged herself because of her weight, and after watching a television program about three women who had undergone stomach stapling, Young decided to create International No Diet Day. She introduced it in the United Kingdom in 1992. The first year it was just a small gathering of women having a picnic and wearing stickers that said "Ditch That Diet." Spurred on by feminist groups, by the following year it had spread and was celebrated around the world.
The day has various goals regarding health and weight. It promotes a healthy lifestyle and highlights that someone can be healthy regardless of their size. It raises the question, "Is there such thing as a 'right' body shape?" It brings forward dangers about dieting, and how they often don't work and can be unhealthy. Awareness is raised about weight discrimination and there is a focus on eradicating it. The day honors those who have struggled with eating disorders or who have gone through weight-loss surgery. Finally, as the day's name suggests, it is a day to be free of diets and to not worry about body weight.
The day has not been without criticism. Some have said that while they agree it is good to accept people for their unique sizes and to shun unrealistic and unhealthy diets, the implication that those who are obese should accept their weight and not try to reduce it is not a good thing. The day has also been seen as controversial because of its embracing of "Health at Every Size," which has been criticized by many in the scientific community.
How to Observe International No Diet Day
Celebrate the day by reflecting on how you perceive those who are overweight. Are you accepting of others, or do you judge people because of their size or weight? Today you should focus on making sure that you treat those who struggle with weight issues with respect. You can also reflect on your own weight today. Are you happy with it? Do you eat healthily and exercise? What diets have you tried and what have been their outcome? You could read a book on diets by Mary Evans Young, the creator of International No Diet Day. Restaurants often have deals on decadent and fat-filled foods on the day, so this is the perfect time for indulging and forgetting any diets you've been thinking about trying. The symbol of the day is a light blue ribbon, so you could wear one and let people know about the day if they ask what your ribbon means.