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Welcome to the Ozempic era. | On the Record

Much like we have divided history into distinct spans of time — the Paleolithic era, the Medieval ages — the concept of diet fads can also be separated into periods of existence. 

Individuals of Generation X are the children of Jane Fonda workout videos and the zero-calorie soda boom of the 1980s. Millennials were born in the wake of the 1990s obsession with “low-fat” foods and the ultra-thin “supermodel” physique, haunting the runway and the psyche of young women everywhere.

Mandile Mpofu | Graphic Artist

Generation Z, despite the valiant efforts of the “body positivity” movement, has had to grapple with the wrath of “health” influencers on TikTok and Instagram, promoting everything from carnivore diets to “what-I-eat-in-a-day” videos (spoiler alert: it’s typically not very much.)

But it seems a new dieting period has taken over, one both unprecedented in its popularity throughout the celebrity sphere and desperate in its methods: the era of Ozempic. The injectable medication is typically prescribed to treat diabetes. 

Though, in 2021, Wegovy — a new version of the drug with a higher dose of active ingredient semaglutide — was approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat obesity. The injections can be prescribed for any reason, which has led to such a rise in popularity that both Ozempic and Wegovy have now been added to the FDA’s list of drugs currently in short supply. 

But it seems that this new era is actually the product of an original source. The shortages are being caused, not by individuals who need Ozempic, but by celebrities and public figures, desperate to fit into the molds I thought we had long since abandoned. 

“Rich people are buying this stuff off prescription for upwards of $1,000 … it’s now a mainstream craze,” actress Jameela Jamil said in a post on Instagram. 

Jamil is not the only one to have spoken out about the rampant use of Ozempic throughout the celebrity sphere. Andy Cohen and Tamara Judge have both ridiculed misusers of Ozempic online. Elon Musk has openly admitted to taking Wegovy to maintain a new, thinner physique. 

One would have thought that the increased popularity of body positive stars such as Lizzo and Mindy Kaling signaled a change of heart, a turning of the tides against the “one-size-fits-all” beauty standard that has dominated the Hollywood industry for years.

But this assumption is wrong. Rather, the popularity of the Ozempic trend brings to light a truth many have tried to ignore — where progress holds the most social capital, the “body positivity” movement is fighting a losing battle. 

This is a harsh reality to grapple with. I can’t help but fear what this trend might signal — that any headway we make can automatically be canceled out with two steps backward from individuals with the money and power to make them. 

But despite this regression, I refuse to believe all hope for a more inclusive future is lost. It simply seems that our methods forward require a different route. 

Here’s the root of the problem: The concept of body positivity in the entertainment industry has long rested upon shaky ground, an existence formed on a well-intentioned but unsturdy premise. 

How is it possible to sustain a wide-spread body-positivity movement that relies upon nipped-and-tucked public figures, most of whom are subjected to the societal notions that made it necessary for the movement to exist in the first place? 

It seems that our induction into the era of Ozempic has given us our answer — we can’t. But this doesn’t mean that true progress is impossible. 

Rather, the movement has to modernize itself further. We have to leave behind the one antiquated aspect of its existence: a reliance on the entertainment industry to promote its message. 

Standards of beauty and thinness are too ingrained in Hollywood for us to regard it as a beacon of societal progress. Weight loss trends, like Ozempic and fad diets, will never fully die in a world so inherently structured around a singular concept of beauty.

But just as Hollywood has created this standard for itself, our own can be created beyond the scope of its reach. Our principle of acceptance does not have to fit within their mold. Inclusivity deserves to be on our terms, not on the terms of those who feel the need to force weightloss to fit in with a society that is still stuck in its past. 

It’s time for us to move beyond the history of dieting, to say goodbye to the Ozempic era and every other period of fad dieting. We never needed to exist in them in the first place.

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