I’ve been on a diet since I was 12. I was fat, with a round face and soft, thick thighs which spread and spilled over the sides of chairs when I sat down. From the moment I became fully aware of it, my body – like most fat bodies at the time – was a problem.
It was the Nineties and my mum, very much a woman of the time, was well-versed in diets; we had bookshelves heaving with guides on everything from Slimming World to Atkins, Beverly Hills and cabbage soup. Thinness seemed to me a prerequisite of womanhood. And back then, fat seemed a simple problem to solve. You went on a diet, you controlled your appetite, you ate less, did some sit-ups and you got thin. Simple!
Somewhere between then and now, that idea has become deeply unfashionable. No one ‘diets’ anymore. Dieting is not cool. Instead, we get #strongnotskinny, do a detox or go ‘plant-based’. We eat clean, get lean and follow ancient Ayurvedic principles which realign our chakras (and give us, like, amazing skin). Even Weight Watchers, once a regimented weight-loss programme, has rebranded. The company will now be called WW, and feature the very millennial-friendly tagline ‘Wellness that Works’.
“This is just a next step, a point of validation,” said the company’s CEO, Mindy Grossman. “Like any brand we have to stay relevant…” Which seems to mean eschewing ‘weight loss’ in favour of the more nebulous concept of ‘wellness’.