A few days ago, as I was happily stuffing my face with a delicious sandwich, I had a revelation. I was looking at pictures of my friends and I during my senior year of high school that I haphazardly stuck above my bed in my dorm room at the beginning of the semester, ones that I had already seen countless times before, when something hit me: Just last year, I was very thin. Come on, you already knew that you used to look like that! I told myself. But the truth is, my former appearance wasn’t what had caught me off guard as I stood there gazing at the image of me that was probably at least a good 10 pounds lighter than I am now. The real point that stood out to me was that I distinctly remembered being that “skinny” girl, and I knew that girl probably felt, even in the deepest crevices of her heart, that she was 5 times heavier than she actually was.
Since arriving to college, I have finally come to terms with the feelings I have about my body. Some days will be good, and some days will be bad. Truthfully, I think a lot of the insecurities we develop about our bodies will never go away, but we can learn to tell ourselves that we are wonderful, and that no matter what, it’s going to be okay. That being said, here are a few things that college has taught me about women’s bodies and why we should try our best to love them all:
1. The Freshman 15 is real. The Negative Freshman 15 is also real. You will see girls who go through both.
You have the power to decide if you want to lose weight or if you want to gain it. I have a friend who, since coming to college, has become a total health nut/gym rat and looks absolutely amazing. However, keep in mind that just because you have access to a free gym, and just because it might be less than half a mile away if you walk, doesn’t mean you will make it there as much as you tell yourself, “You really have to go every single day” (this may or may not be about me…). Also, alcohol, the nectar of the college gods, will now likely be a fixture in your life on the weekends. If you like to go out and drink, you will probably put on a few pounds. Worth it? Only you can decide. If you are really that worried about weight gain, don’t do it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
2. You will order pizza/wings/cookies one night when you get drunk. You will eat too many pieces of pizza/cookies/wings one night when you get drunk. Get over it.
Bingeing on food a few times won’t kill you; besides, almost nothing is better than sharing a sub-par pizza that suddenly tastes amazing with a few of your friends on a Friday night.
3. No matter how you look, men will still hit on you. Don’t worry about having a “hot body” just to impress them.
Have you ever been to a Frat party? I hadn’t until the beginning of this semester, and all jokes aside, they are a pretty good confidence boost if you have ever at one point wished to have men drooling over you like hungry hyenas (come on girls, most of us have). My best friend once said, “A girl could wear a trash bag to a Frat and guys would still think she was super hot.” Yup. That’s probably true.
4. If you are looking for something more than just a casual hookup or a surface-level compliment, you can also find someone who will truly think you are amazing inside and out.
Even though I know a lot of girls feel like men still act like boys in college, there are a few who are really ready for a mature relationship, and that means loving each other on a deeper level than just one that starts with them wanting you for your physical appearance. True happiness comes from appreciating the way you are, “inside and out”, so that someone else can appreciate you in the same way, and there are men out there who are ready to do that. Even though that phrase seems cliché, it’s so frequently used because it really is true. If you really feel like you’ve combed through your entire group of undergrads to find this person, though, maybe you should try eating lunch outside of the Graduate buildings, *wink wink*
5. The measure of your waistline will never, EVER, be an indicator of the measure of your potential for success.
You get where you are going because of your drive and your ambition, not because you are University Barbie. Would skinny me do any better or worse on her Calculus test? No. If I gained 10 pounds, would it mean I would be any more or less successful in my studies if I put the same amount of effort towards them? No. Textbooks and exams don’t care how much you had for lunch, if you just got crowned Miss America, or if you haven’t showered in a few days because you’ve been too busy cramming. Job interviewers don’t care if you are a size 4 or a size 14. In the real world, believe it or not, your personality and your willingness to work for what you want is what will push you toward your future successes.
6. You will always be amazing, because you are the only one of you on this entire planet, and in this entire universe, who will ever exist. You are young, you are healthy, and you deserve to feel like you matter.
Think of all the people in your life that love you. Now think to yourself, “Would this person still love me if I weighed less? How about if I weighed more?” I felt horrified in my first few months of college when I realized that I no longer looked exactly like I used to, but hey, guess what? My best friends are still my best friends, I still have the world’s greatest boyfriend, I still succeed in school, have fun when I go out, and my parents are still proud of me. Don’t kid yourself. I don’t care how down on yourself you feel at this moment; there are people in your life that will ALWAYS, ALWAYS love you. I swear. You will always mean something. You are so important, and you deserve to be happy. As long as you are healthy, you don’t have to be “perfect” by any standards. “Perfect” isn’t a real thing, but “Happy” is.