I thought I was going to get in trouble at the grocery store when the produce guy came over and asked why I was taking pictures of the bananas. I pointed out the little stickers, and he said, "Oh yeah, we've gotten a few shipments of bananas with those lately." I just smiled, backed away from the bunches, and spared him my rant, because man, I was pissed!
You may not have even noticed they were on your bananas - go on, I'll wait while you check. Did you find these little drawings of bananas doing exercises like glute bridges, diamond push-ups, and triceps dips? You can scroll through to see pictures I took of the bananas. These seemingly innocent stickers were brought to my attention when I saw this photo posted by registered dietitian Cara D'Anello, MS, RD, LDN, with a sticker that had a little picture of a banana doing "toe taps." The text on her photo said, "No wonder diet culture exists."
I hadn't thought about it like that, but then I realized what she meant. Chiquita said on its website that it put these fitness stickers on bananas "to boost health and wellness." At first glance, this may not seem like a big deal, but when I thought about it, she was right. The deeper, subconscious message I got was "you need to work off this banana after you eat it" or "you need to do sumo squats in order to 'earn it.'" And that made me really mad. I mean, my 10-year-old daughter eats these bananas. What kind of message is that sending to her?
Bananas already have a bad reputation for being "too carby" or "too high in sugar," so I felt like those little stickers were attacking my simple and pure piece of fruit, making me feel like I shouldn't eat it. They made me think of all the times I exercised as punishment for eating "bad" foods or eating too much. And this is a frickin' piece of fruit - not a candy bar, or doughnut, or cookie, like diet culture would tell me is worse than fruit. I already get messages from diet culture about how, what, and when to eat - I don't need my fruit adding to that negative conversation.
Maybe I'm overreacting, and maybe this is no biggie. But it really feels like this is diet culture's way of sneaking into my life, telling me I need to pair healthy eating with working out. What does this banana expect from me? That I'm going to reach for it and think, "Oh cool, let me just put you down so I can bust out some glute bridges right now!"
Another thing I thought about was how the diet industry sends the message that you need to be thin in order to be beautiful, which is why I went on my first diet at just 12 years old. And now 31 years later, I'm working really hard to not diet, to eat intuitively, and to embrace my body as it is, not only for myself but also as a role model for my daughter. I get that this company was trying to connect healthy eating with exercise, but I don't want to think about working out while I'm eating, feel guilty for eating, or feel pressured to work out by my food. I immediately thought in my head, "Screw you, diet culture; I'm gonna eat my banana and enjoy it!"