For a while something’s been… eating me, if you will. Excuse the pun, but seriously – is the beauty community – slash – industry not obsessed with diet? While pro-ana aesthetics are less overt these days, the wellness boom has taken its place to police women’s bodies.

Nonsensical health fads like paleo, ketogenic, and alkaline diets are like sadistic traps laid out across the beauty business where, at any moment, you may be assaulted with unsolicited lifestyle advice when you’re just trying to buy a face cream. So-called fitness experts are interviewed and quoted in beauty press giving advice like cutting out gluten, or sugar, or whatever else it is that makes life worth living. I can’t stand it any longer. Women are already anxiety-ridden about food, because we’ve always been considered “unworthy” of proper sustenance, and every single health and wellness trend stems from this idea whether you like it or not.

Wellness and beauty go hand in hand. A tragic side effect of the self care trend is the fact that cosmetics have inched closer to the health industry than the fashion industry. Popular influencers on instagram promote eyeshadow palettes, highlighters and diet teas or upload “what I eat in a day”-style youtube videos where, inevitably, their diet consists of expensive health foods. In addition, beauty supplements are booming, with skincare brands flogging vitamins along with their beauty products.

At the same time, a genre of cookbooks by people who aren’t nutritionists, doctors or chefs are climbing best-seller lists, with recipes promising to give your skin a “glow” (a detestable term at this point). It surprises absolutely no-one that these “glow-inducing” recipes happen to be low-calorie and align with contemporary diet trends like raw food or the bizarre “blood type” diet. I’d argue that I get a “glow” from drinking a bottle of wine, but I guess that’s different.

Within the industry, many events are now catered by health food companies supplying chia puddings and microgreens and dishes mysteriously named “bowls”. Trendy “superfood” ingredients like kale appear not only on our plates but as cosmetic ingredients, promising to do for our faces what it does to our waistlines. I’ve spoken before about food and beauty and the way cosmetics are often advertised as “unhealthy” food items, and interestingly, the opposite seems to be occurring. I recently saw a clinique ad for a face cream that promised a “healthy” start to your day – complete with fresh berries as garnish.

For those of us who experience acne or other skin diseases and disorders, it’s almost a given to be advised to make a dietary change in order to “cure” our skin issues. Gluten, dairy and sugar are consistently blamed for more or less every bump or spot, despire the fact that there’s very little evidence that diet is to blame. And even if it were – is it reasonable to ask a woman to change the way she eats so that she will be more beautiful?

Why do we have to sacrifice pleasure for beauty – what’s the point if the price of clear skin is to never again eat a plate of fries?

Perhaps instead of advising acne sufferers to stop eating things that aren’t sold for $30 at a health food store, we could assure our fellow woman that her skin doesn’t dictate her worth. And a piece of cake might make her feel better.