Taking Accountability for the Diet Culture Dropout Tees

The intention of this blog is to take accountability for the impact of the Diet Culture Dropout (DCD) tees.  The blog post in March, about no longer selling the shirts, did not fully speak to some of the greater issues and overall impact. After a year of reflection and growth, I feel it’s important that I speak to it.

In case people are unaware of the backstory with the DCD tee, a year ago, colleagues, clients and I were brainstorming ideas for a t-shirt that would proclaim our commitment to taking down diet culture. When “diet culture dropout ” came up as an option, we knew we had a winner. In the excitement of the shirt, I didn’t fully market research. Had I done so, I would have discovered a similar tee, “diet industry dropout” (DID), created two years prior. More importantly, there was a DID platform occupied by larger-bodied people actively refusing the diet industry’s attempt to perpetuate body shame and dictate one’s worth based on size.

Although I had no intention of hurting this community, there was a profound impact when the DCD shirt gained attention. DCD was symbolic of the issues with body positivity (BoPo) and unearthed some of the pain larger-bodied *folx have experienced at the hands of thin people. For those unaware, there is a history with the body positive movement co-opting the labor of the fat positive community and excluding their voices. The DCD tees paralleled some of these issues.

One of the parallels was a photo taken at the Columbia River Eating Disorder Network Conference. The picture was of myself and colleagues wearing the DCD tees; we are all white and thin-bodied. The photo was posted by someone on Twitter with the caption, “Portland representing inclusivity in the body positive movement.” The eating disorder field is rife with privilege, and it was fully captured in this photo. It looked like a stolen platform oppressing the very community it was originally designed for.

It pains me to look back at the DCD experience knowing a marginalized group was hurt. My hope is that acknowledging the impact and taking accountability for any pain can begin to repair damage that may have occurred.

I realize there is more that can be said, there is a second blog sharing some key areas that allowed myself and some of my close colleagues to grow and learn as both providers and activists.

I recognize that I will not do this work perfectly, but I can promise to be open and available to feedback so my allyship work has a positive impact on dismantling fat phobia, weight stigma and diet culture. I highly value building relationships in the community, which is why I am making myself available to those who want to continue the dialogue. I can be reached by email @ jamieleerd@gmail.com.


*Folx is a gender neutral version of folks


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