04/26/2013 05:32 pm ET | Updated Jun 26, 2013

Dieting And Social Media: Is Publicly Announcing Your Weight Loss A Bad Thing?


In season five of Mad Men, Betty Draper starts going to Weight Watchers. The weekly meetings include a public weigh-in, where women who have lost weight are praised and those who have gained are, well, shamed.

According to article published Thursday by Kat Stoeffel at The Cut, public dieting is back, thanks to social media. And between apps that tweet your average weekly weight to your followers, a Foursquare app that alerts your followers when you've skipped the gym and a site that will contribute funds to a cause you detest if you fail to meet your weight loss goals, it's become more public than ever.

Stoeffel writes that "public dieting combines people's best and worst tendencies on social media. It helps struggling dieters find virtual support networks, but embraces their ability to shame one another."

One problem with the trend is that it can make followers uncomfortable, especially when the dieter and her audience are female. "It's easy to avoid Vogue if it makes you feel bad. But what if the women in your social networks became a bunch of self-styled Bridget Joneses?" Stoeffel writes. However, she also interviews Julie Fredrickson, co-founder of social gaming platform PlayAPI, who says she appreciates the transparency all this tracking affords.

Stoeffel summarizes Fredrickson's position, "To her, the more public a woman's diet is, the more honest she is about the sheer work demanded by a beauty standard that women are penalized for not meeting. Followers may roll their eyes at the social dieter's nonsense fitness badges and Instagram rainbows of Blueprint juices but 'that's the reality of what skinny women do.'"

I tend to agree with Frederickson. Think of all the actresses who refuse to acknowledge that they don't actually eat burgers and ice cream sundaes. Wouldn't it be better for everyone if they admitted that it takes work to be that size? Then maybe we could dispel the myth of the effortless figure. Also, while I'm vehemently opposed to any sort of fat shaming, I'm also not a fan of the judgement that surrounds women who eat a certain way in order to look the way they want to look. If it's okay for men to post calories burned and pounds lost, it should be acceptable for women to as well.

That said, you're allowed to be annoyed at someone for filling your Twitter feed, whatever they're broadcasting.

What do you think? Is dieting through social media problematic?


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