One afternoon, my mom’s boyfriend and I were having lunch, and he noticed that I was eating a salad (something rare for a carnivore like me). He asked if I was trying to lose weight and I told him the truth. Yup, this will be my billionth try at it. He kind of just chuckled and shook his head. The next thing he said will probably stay with me for years.
“It’s okay to want to lose weight, but don’t do it for the wrong reasons. Remember that you’re beautiful the way you are. The things you think you see in the mirror aren’t the same things people see when they look at you.”
Since my preteens, I had the idea that “skinny = perfect” drilled into my head, and because of that, I’ve always believed I was flawed. For years, I struggled with how I viewed myself, and it wasn’t until that moment when I realized my reflection was marred by what society wanted me to see. Weight loss should solely be about good health, rather than an obsession to be what everyone else thinks is beautiful. Unfortunately, that usually isn’t the case.
According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), out of 185 female college students who were surveyed, 58 percent felt pressure to be a certain weight, and of the 83 percent that dieted for weight loss, 44 percent were already of normal weight according to their body mass index (BMI).
Many of us are trying to lose weight we don’t necessarily need to get rid of, but who can blame us for wanting to look a certain way? Abercrombie only manufactures certain sizes to ensure those who wear their clothes are “thin and beautiful.” People across all social media platforms have coined the term #thinspiration as a means of motivating themselves to be skinny by unhealthy and dangerous fasting. Magazines go Photoshop crazy trying to enhance their cover girl’s features, and if Beyoncé and Jennifer Lawrence aren’t good enough to make the cut, how are we supposed to feel about ourselves?
In this day and age, it’s no secret that we all come in different sizes, shapes and colors, but the way media portrays beauty definitely puts on the pressure for both men and women to be something no one is: perfect. From actually encouraging weight gain in the 60s-70s, to promoting skinny as the new pretty today, it’s obvious that society will always find flaws where there are none. And this is where the war on “skinny” and “fat” starts. Skinny is hailed as “flawless,” and curvy is deemed as “real,” which in both cases, is body shaming. The problem, it seems, comes from the fact that society forgets every single one of us is “real,” whether we’re an XS, an XXL or anything in between because let’s face it, one size does not fit all.
Summer always seems to bring countless insecurities as you start to hear your friends complain about working for their “summer bod.” Trips to the beach, pool parties and hot days in general call for more skin, and it is no longer uncommon for boys and girls alike to feel as though they aren’t good enough to bare more. But this idea of what’s “good enough” is just that—an idea. The idea is nothing if we don’t bring it to fruition. So Broncos, we have a challenge for you.
No matter your size, the next time you look in the mirror, give your body a chance. Remember that these are the legs you’ve walked through life with, the arms you’ve held your loved ones in, and the shoulders you’ve carried your burdens on. Don’t discredit how strong your body truly is because of an idea of beauty that society has so severely misconstrued. Every single one of us are worth more than the numbers on a scale.
Want to put in your two cents on society’s effect on body image today? Use the hashtag, #CampusCropChat on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and let us know what you’re thinking!
For help on coping with an eating disorder or any body image issues, visit here for information on confidential helplines and treatment centers in your area.