The “What I Eat in a Day” video has become a staple on everyone’s Instagram, Tik Tok, and YouTube pages. “What I Eat in a Day to Lose 60 Pounds,” “What I Eat in a Day: Healthy and Realistic,” or “What I Eat in a Day on Keto” are just a few of the thousands of videos that pop up after a quick google search. Young, tan, skinny, and conventionally attractive women cultivated this trend. The camera pans to soft morning light sneaking through a girl's window. She wakes up early, does a morning stretch, and heads to the kitchen to start her day off with lemon water (she likely claims the morning drink is detoxifying). For approximately 10 minutes, we see an abundance of fruits, vegetables, and expensive superfoods.

It’s a classic model, and one not too difficult to emulate. Green smoothies and sunset yoga spatter across millions of young girls’ screens hoping that one day, by drinking enough coconut water, they might look like their favorite beauty guru. The issue is, they probably won’t. Promises of clear skin and flat stomachs quickly create restrictive diets and a lifelong battle with your body. Many of the women who pioneered the trend have come forward with their own stories of food struggle. Their past videos remain up: guidebooks to anorexia, brain fog, binge-eating, and hormone imbalances all laid out on a screen for profit.


However, this video concept has since evolved. While some continue to use the title to promote unrealistic and unhealthy body standards, other influencers have flipped the model on its head. @Brittanilancaster on Tik Tok has accumulated a following of almost one million through her “What I Eat in Recovery” videos. Brit, who is recovering from two eating disorders, shares her meals in this recurring series. She includes traditional fear foods almost daily. Bagels with cream cheese, pizza, and chips saturate her days. This interpretation of the “What I Eat in a Day” video has gained steam, and hundreds of content creators have followed suit.

The paramount distinction between the template and its replica is the creator's intention with her meals. Britt, unlike her predecessors, removes the relationship between food and its impact on appearance. Instead, she concentrates on how food fuels her body and how it mentally and physically makes her feel: awake, sluggish, joyful, strong, excited, calm. While in original models of the "What I Eat in a Day" video, creators might feign awareness of the mental impact of food, constant chatter around weight loss benefits and before and after images reveal true motivations.

Although more traditional “What I Eat in a Day” videos persist, viewers' tolerance for diet-culture fades. Increasingly, viewers have begun to comment on videos they deem to showcase unhealthy standards, pointing out the restrictiveness of these diets and educating others on body positivity (and on science exhibiting the futility of these restrictive diets). Ten years ago, mainstream body positivity was unfathomable, at least to my twelve-year-old self. The term body neutrality had yet to emerge, though today it has made its rounds among most diet-culture critics. Despite this new discourse, pressure to maintain a “trendy” look permeates most aspects of a woman’s daily life. Beauty is her social capital. Today, as creators like Britt grow in popularity, more women gain the tools to reject that culture.

A History

In the 1970s, feminist activists formed the Fat Underground, an organization advocating for Fat Liberation. This group of women felt society treated overweight and obese individuals as second-class citizens, and consequently demanded equal rights for fat people. Progressive thinkers of this movement saw the intersectional aspects of body positivity and fat liberation. 

Referenced in Sabrina Strings’ Fearing the Black Body, the connection between fatphobia and racism is evident. In the 17th and 18th centuries, European philosophers and scientists chronicled their experiences in Africa. They noticed that African women tended to be full-figured (a feature that Europeans values during the renaissance-era). However, the birth of the transatlantic slave trade resulted in the creation of a hierarchy where slenderness prevailed as beautiful. The bodily characteristics perceived more common in black women served “as proof of a certain type of inherent racial superiority, or inferiority” (Strings, 73). We see this disparity within our current culture and the body positivity movements of today. Rarely featured in the original “What I Eat in a Day” videos are black or brown bodies. And the faces of body positivity are generally white women. Ashely Graham, Tess Holiday, and Iskra Lawrence are the first women to come to mind when I think of a body-positive influencer. 

Body Neutrality

Body Positivity specifically focuses on guaranteeing equal rights for fat people, at least in its purest form. Thin to mid-size women, who are certainly still harmed by society's expectations for the female body, do not face the same criticism and degradation as fat people. For smaller women, body neutrality has become a means of relinquishing food and body guilt.

Historically, American culture linked weight and appearance with moral fiber. Body positivity aims to detangle those associations. 

Some advocates express that all bodies are beautiful. It is a popular mantra on social media, one that might not grasp everyone's lived reality. 20th century America birthed hundreds of new diets and sparked an increased if not mandated effort to lose weight.

Given the social climate, the effort to unconditionally love your body might be an impossible demand. The phrase "all bodies are beautiful" is perhaps beneficial and can coexist with body neutrality efforts. However, a more critical analysis reveals this concept consists of foundations harmful to women. These foundations insist a woman’s worth rests on her beauty, authorizing the beauty industry to further commodify our insecurities.

Although the beauty standard may have expanded, the drive to be attractive subsists, allowing companies to bottle up your beauty and sell it to you. Everyone deserves to feel worthy and loved regardless of their size. But focusing disproportionately on beauty reduces us to our appearance. If all bodies were not beautiful, what would that mean? Is an unattractive body less worthy of human rights or respect? Certainly not.

The aim of Body Neutrality is to eradicate the beauty standard, not simply redirect it. Body Positivity is undeniably relevant for traditionally marginalized bodies, such as fat or disabled people. Body Neutrality represents a revolutionary shift in narrative around our worth and detaches it from our physical appearance. This shift is what Britt and similar content creators advocate for through their takes on the “What I Eat in a Day” video. They focus on the pure pleasure of eating and all the benefits that come from loving your body for how it protects and serves you, not how it looks.