The health industrial complex, why kale is awful, and why it deserves a place in my header and domain name

I love kale. It’s cool in salads, in eggs, in juice, like it is great. It is also the latest trend. It’s the face of the health and fitness community as a superfood that has uncountable nutrients and benefits. It’s the current face of the health industrial complex.

The health industrial complex is the institutionalized reproduction of elitist and ableist rhetoric and propaganda that parades itself under the guise of health and fitness. Now do not get me wrong, there are endless benefits to exercise and eating right. There is science behind that, diabetes and heart disease with lifestyle and habits as contributing factors is real. What is socially constructed is the idea that to be whole and participate fully in society one must lead a “healthy lifestyle” (a concept that is socially constructed). The health industrial complex is the string of companies profiting by convincing people they need something, like a power food like kale, or some natural energy drink, or really anything they can make money off of. It’s the carb free diets and the paleo diets and the endless fads and crazes. I love kale. Why don’t i buy it? because it is expensive. Why don’t i juice foods? because that is expensive. What good is a superfood that only some have access to? what good is a soda tax if grocery stores raises the prices on every food to make up the difference? this is not promoting healthy life styles. this is reproducing elitist capitalist ideals where those with the most material wealth set definitions and baselines of standards. what good are exercise applications on mobile devices if they are ableist and assume that most people are starting from a point of physical and mental ability that is not true for everyone, an overwhelming amount of people. what good is #transformationtuesday if the transformations propagate eating disorders and body image issues. I can’t speak on the experience of men but as a woman i see that this promotes eurocentric features like thinness and appropriates features of women of color like large breasts and a large butt. Be fit but not too fit. too much muscle and it is not feminine. have nice breasts but not too much fat. have a big butt but not cellulite. no neck rolls. have a sharp jaw line.

As someone who struggles with body dysmorphic disorder and with serious health conditions like prediabetes and liver failure this shit bothers me. As much as I am trying to heal and love myself inside and out, I am bombarded with messages that i do not fit a standard, that i need to look better to be better, that if I am healthier (aka look healthier aka look better) I will feel better. That exercise and eating healthy is a cure all as if medications prescribed to people with depression are not actual medicines used to treat an actual illness. How am i supposed to love myself when I am told that my body in it’s current state is not worthy of love. How am I supposed to heal when a person has actually suggested to me that if I eat more kale I will be healthier and have more energy and lose weight (fit a standard). Do I look like if have kale juice money?

I’m here to remind you that you are enough. That you are beautiful as you are. That you do not need external validation. That your body is strong and capable in its current state and capacity. That you are unique and individual. That every day is transformation tuesday because you are a dynamic and never ending process that adapts and shifts and grows and glows and shines. I am here to beg you not to blunt your edges. Im begging you to not to dull your brightness because it is too much for some people. I am here to tell you that you are glorious, flaws and all. That you are human. That you deserve kale. You deserve access to clean healthy food and water despite socioeconomic status. That you deserve outlets that are appropriate and useful for your capabilities.

I dont see much of a difference between pharmaceutical companies that exploit and extort human beings in need of medicine and food and fitness companies that prey on the mental illnesses and insecurities of young minds and shame the working families barely struggling to make ends meet. Maybe if people could work 40 hours a week and not live in poverty they could afford some kale. maybe if college students were not broke they could eat something other than ramen. maybe if young girls were not starving themselves they could take agency of their bodies. maybe if capitlism allowed people to have free time they could exercise, or fight the need to be productive and meditate. maybe if companies stopped monopolizing profit indigenous peoples would not be exploited on farms. maybe if people who do not fit the socially constructed norm of beauty where not judged, discriminated against, and shamed, maybe then, just maybe I would buy some kale. for now I’ll leave it to the fuckbois.

– Arieana


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