I think we can all agree that over past few decades, the line between what is real and what is fake has become more of a photoshopped blur.
With just the tap of a screen, we're free to submerge ourselves in a world of photoshopped legs and flawless faces that make it easy to wonder how much of what we're looking at is real. The truth is, media tends to spoon feed us whatever it finds in society's cupboard and, more often than not, we're being served the furthest thing from a balanced diet.
Upon my arrival on campus, the presence of one little media-driven lie stuck out to me even more than the usual misconceptions that a thigh gap is the definition of beauty or that a two-week juice cleanse epitomizes health. It's called "The Freshman 15" and I strongly dislike it.
I immediately noticed that the 15 pounds freshman supposedly gain if they aren't careful during their first year of college was a prevalent topic of conversation during meals. While listening to my peers (usually females) talk about how much weight they would soon gain from a bowl of lo mein or serving of ice cream, I thought about how much easier we freshman would have it if we weren't preoccupied by a fallacy about something as sensitive and stressful as weight gain! We'd all have one less thing on our plates without actually taking anything off our plates! Thus, I thought I'd share five reasons to stop listening to misconceptions about the Freshman 15 and consider grabbing the chocolate chip cookie that's been calling your name all day.
1. It doesn’t exist.
Fun fact: The term “Freshman 15” was coined by Seventeen Magazine in August 1989 when the magazine printed “Fighting the Freshman 15” on its cover. Damage done. So yeah, the super scientifically supported claims that freshman start packing on the pounds as soon as they step on campus can be attributed to a FASHION MAGAZINE. In reality, the average female gains around 3 pounds during her freshman year, the average male gains around 3.5, and throughout college, most females gain around 9 pounds, while males gain around 13.5. But get this: Those numbers are the same for those who don’t even go to college. Moreover, when 17 and 18 year olds begin college, they aren’t finished growing. The amount of weight that college students usually gain corresponds perfectly to the amount of weight that a developing human is supposed to gain between the ages of 17 and 22! #ThanksSeventeen.
2. No one actually wants to talk about it!
I get it ― we’re all new and strange to each other; once we all know each other’s names and hometowns, it can feel like we’re straight out of things to talk about. So, we start relying on things we think everyone can relate to. Unfortunately, those topics (at least for most teenage girls) often pertain to how we look. And so begins the, “Ugh, this is going to make me so fat,” and the, “Same! The Freshman 15 is so real.” But what if we stop playing into that? I mean, if we were all ten years younger, we would have been jumping for joy upon finding out that the dining hall has a freaking soft-serve machine! Why aren’t we doing that now? Why not talk about food in a positive way? I think perfectly baked cookies are pretty exciting and I’m certainly not going to pretend to feel any other way when I decide to eat one...or three. It’s time to try to feeling proud of and excited about our food choices instead of shaming ourselves for them.
3. Every single body is different.
Once upon a time, teen BMI calculators didn’t exist. There was a reason for that; teenage bodies are utter messes... in a good way! Right now, we’re discombobulated blobs of hormones on journeys to finding out who we’re going to be and what we’re going to look like. You can’t put a number on something that is so dependent on every individual body type, especially when that body may not even know its type yet. The most important thing to remember is that numbers mean nothing. If you rock, your body rocks. And you rock. Enough said.
4. We have much better things to do.
We’ve heard it before and we’ll hear it again: These next four years are going to be some of the best of our lives. Don’t you agree that anything that’s interfering with this awesome time should be eliminated? No, that isn’t a suggestion to drop that course that you may not (definitely won’t) get higher than a C in. However, over the next four years, we’re going to make friends that will last a lifetime, go on unimaginable adventures, and possibly figure out what the heck we’re supposed to do with our lives (#sotumblr). Seriously, there’s no time to worry about the inaccurate number on a scale or to think about what a magazine lied about years ago when we’re supposed to be having a blast!
5. This is the only body you have.
Well ain't that the truth?! While subbing ice cream for salad at every meal isn't recommended, opting to eat little to nothing is SO much worse. At a time when you're likely being bombarded by everything from homesickness to 8 p.m. classes, the last thing you should be worrying about is your stomach growling louder than your professor's voice. The number of young women who develop eating disorders during college is appalling, and the Freshman 15 is just another contributor to that issue. Your body is like a house that you're going to live in for your entire life, so treat it like a palace and fill it with nothing but goodness and love!
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.