January is the Almond Mum for the year. The month that looks at you sadly, and asks if you’re really going to have that second bit of toast, or if you’ve done your 10K steps yet. For all the Auntie Christmas force-feeding, we need to make amends.
TikTok has made it easy to find out what an Almond Mum looks like. It is not when an almond gives birth to a baby almond, which, while whimsical, would be horticulturally far-fetched – instead, it comes from a Real Housewives conversation between Gigi Hadid, a model, and her mother, Yolanda Hadid, a former model.
There’s a clip of Gigi telling her mother that she’s feeling faint because she has eaten only half an almond, and her mother suggests that Gigi address this by eating a couple more almonds and chewing them really slowly. And lo, the term Almond Mum was upon us – a woman overly concerned not just with her own skinniness, but the skinniness of her daughters.
Not that you have to have daughters to advocate meal-skipping or being in a state of perma-starve: see Liz Hurley’s famous snack suggestion of six raisins, or Joanne Lumley’s ‘dinner’ of a handful of peanuts washed down with a G&T.
And while these two are from an era pre-Gigi, where diet culture was overt and nothing tasted as good as skinny felt, these days a chummier form of stealth marketing means that mainstream diet culture now hides under the umbrella of ‘wellness’.
Diet culture is well aware that if you shout at it that you’re a fat cow it may also shout back something about body positivity. It needs to be concerned for your wellbeing. Your inner wellbeing, rather than your outer flesh: we’re no longer urged to fight the flab or pinch an inch or anything so primitive. It’s all about health now. Isn’t it?
Although our grandmothers were known for using speed pills, laxatives, and girdles, our mothers and aunts had crazy starvation diets that included glamorous names such the South Beach Diet, Beverly Hills Diet, and Elizabeth Taylor Diet. However, we are more inclusive. Aren’t we?
We not only have fat models these days – a trend tentatively posited by brands like Dove, and now fairly mainstream – but fat role models like Lizzo, who tells us to love ourselves and to love our dinner as we’re at it. And while the whole thinspiration half-an-almond gang still dominate the cultural aesthetic – the fashion industry will always favour angles over curves – there is now more space, thanks to digital media diluting the monopoly of the formerly all-powerful glossies, for the curvy body, the fat body, the big body.
More acceptance that not everyone wants to suck on an almond in order to conform to someone else’s idea of how we should all look.
I try to visualize myself offering Almond Mum advice for my daughter. I am amazed at the response. She’d pity me, as she reached for the jar of almond butter to slather all over her toast, and suggest that I get a life.
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