Home » What Everyone Must Know About DIET CULTURE AND MID-LIFE

What Everyone Must Know About DIET CULTURE AND MID-LIFE

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Ladies, after you read through this blog, I want you to go and listen to the podcast!  I had such a great time talking to my guest Maryann LoRusso.  We dive into so many different topics that I think anyone at any age can benefit from this conversation! Not someone in their 40s or 50s! I found Maryanne on Instagram and I really loved her vibe and I know that you will too!  I wanted to really have her on the show because she worked in the magazine industry back in the 90s when they told us how we should feel about our bodies, how we should look, and what diet we should follow. 


Maryann is the creator of the More Beautiful Project, which includes an online magazine, podcast, and newsletter for women journeying through midlife. Maryann brings to More Beautiful more than three decades of experience as a journalist and media executive.  I love that the term more beautiful can mean anything to anyone!
Maryann has come out of that industry, and we are going to talk about how that industry really shaped the women in our 40s and beyond and how it’s so different for women in their 20s!

I really love all of her content but the one word that triggered me was “midlife”!  Like wait, am I midlife!?!? What makes you use the word midlife?

When I began the project, I was showing branding to some friends and the ones in their 40s etc., they weren’t ready to say they were in midlife. They weren’t sure about this term.  (The 30s used to be midlife! But now it’s slowly moving up.)  I used the term midlife because there is no other word…  Some people think it’s a dirty word along with menopause and I wanted to take back that word, reframe it and make it more vibrant and beautiful! If I am in my midlife right now, I am thrilled! I don’t want to be at the end of my life, I want to be smack in the middle, the sweet spot!

Back in the day when you were working at these magazines, were you just, “I am assigned this story and I will write it.”, or as you were writing the stories did you think they were sending women the wrong signal?
I started very young, I graduated from journalism school in 1991 and had my first magazine job in the fashion industry when I was 23-24 and stayed for about 12 years.

I was so young I don’t think I noticed as much as I may have when I was older.  I was in my 20s and I didn’t have a lot of viewpoints from women in their 40s.  There was no age diversity in the industry, and it was such a youth-obsessed culture!

We lived in an unhealthy viewpoint that you had to be skinny and fit into these tiny clothes, no hips, no boobs, an unhealthy image.  I understood that was wrong at the time, and over time it has changed, but the change was very slow with this.  Let’s not forget that this was that generation where we were bombarded with these images. Even at a younger age, we were teenagers getting Seventeen Magazine and all those magazines we used to devour. Young, skinny, white models were on the cover, and it was so unhealthy. It was too limited, too biased, and made us feel so inadequate in so many ways.

How do you see that most women are seeing their body image? Are we still caught in our midlife in that 90s body image where we feel like there is this certain aesthetic, we need to look a certain way, versus embracing where we are?
I think we would all like to say we aren’t doing that anymore.  But there is so much to get out of our heads.  When you grow up with this notion and it ingrained in you like that, it’s really tough sometimes to get it out.  We are slowly starting to unravel it and see what that culture did to us.  I think that it’s really hard, our job is this transition generation, and to pass the buck onto our kids and daughters.  I never step on the scale in front of my daughter.  I never say anything about her weight.  I focus on how she is feeling not looking! And that is what we should all do.

Now a lot of women are so messed up from a young age, they know they can’t put the same things on their kids that happened to them. The fact that we are a transition generation, pertains to a lot of things. We are the first generation that is getting that information that is readily available to us and it’s a lot of responsibility to undo this damage and set the tone for the next generation.  Back in the 90s, there weren’t a lot of places you could get research, we didn’t have the internet. You heard it on the news, in a newspaper, or at a party.  And there was no internet to research what you heard.  You only got what the headline was on the newsstand and that was it.

And there was a lot of misinformation then too! We believed what we read. We believed we had to eat certain things and look a certain way because the media told us. We couldn’t fact-check, we believed what we read.  And there were a lot of things our generation had to deal with. Extras to deal with! Like, we came of age in the HIV and Aids epidemic and people scared us to death!  We were scared of everything!

We did get the brunt of unhealthy eating, processed foods, etc. in our generation growing up with all the plastics, plastic-wrapped foods, and microwave dinners.  And so many people our age are getting so sick!  And it can’t be a coincidence that this is happening! The overabundance of fast food, processed foods, easy to eat and you see the obesity in families start to rise as the years go on.

Another thing that was unique to our generation was we were told we could have everything.
We were told we are not going to be like me and just get married, but we are going to get married, have kids, and work and DO all the things.  We were told we had to do it all.
And we have this thing if we don’t do 4 million things we suck! We weren’t taught that failure was okay or necessary.  We were taught it was fatal.

I wish I knew then what I know now at this age about resilience and failure. So many women at our age are perfectionists or recovering perfectionists or are so afraid of failure that they always have to go back and do the same thing because they know the results will still be the same.  We all have to go easier on ourselves.  And once you learn to embrace imperfection and failure and all that stuff, you are easier on yourself, you are easier on other people, and all around you are just a better person and fun to be around.

“If there is one thing, I want women to take away from this conversation, just let shit go! Try new things. You don’t have to be great at everything you do. Nothing has to be perfect. Enjoy your life because God knows how much time we have. Let’s just enjoy and experiment and explore. Tap into sides of ourselves we didn’t know we had and we were too afraid to try because we didn’t think we would be good at it!” -Maryann

Things we can think about moving forward.
The goal is to plant the seed.  As the listener, what do you think is the takeaway from the 90s? What are you still holding onto that maybe you didn’t think about?  What have you shifted from moving forward so that you can say ya know what I don’t want to live that life anymore. Can you be more of the Calgon commercial or less of the Enjoli commercial? (check the links in the show notes if you don’t know what I am talking about!!)

In this industry, The More Beautiful Project, is this stemming from all you saw in the fashion industry back in the day?
Yes. and the same goes for The More Beautiful Podcast!  I didn’t want to limit myself to just the podcast so we have more to offer people.  I am also working on a book that goes with the whole project down the road.  I started with this and late 2021 and I was looking around me and noticing all the women in my life, the ones that had hit that midlife point. We were feeling like is this it. Am I invisible now? Is society telling me I am irrelevant? Is there anything to look forward to? I am dealing with my body, ageism at work, etc.  And I thought wait… as I am researching all of this… Everyone was telling us that we were getting LESS off as we age. And I said NO! I think we have more! We have more experience, and freedom as our kids get older, more perspective. And so many things we aren’t addressing and talking about.

I want more beautiful to be this idea that life gets more fulfilling if we choose that and this is how we are going to get it. We are going to form this community and try to figure it out together! How do we live this second part of our life?” The patriarchy painted this picture for us, and we have to take that back and REFRAME our second half of life!

A lot of us have to press pause for a second and really ask ourselves how we want to spend the second half of our lives.

What is one thing that makes you feel magical?
So many things do, but right now in this stage in my life, one thing I am realizing is that being creative and being in the flow of something really makes me come alive. I knew I enjoyed running and writing, but I didn’t quite pinpoint what about those activities. Now that I am embracing other things, when I am doing that stuff, I am lost in the moment. Time flies, I have a smile on my face, and I feel like life is just great! It rejuvenates me and gives me a new zest for life!  It’s so important to tap into that as we get older.


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Enjoli commercial:
Calgon commercial: 
First Wives Club Trailer:


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