Student Insight: Body Positivity and the College Experience

Cheyanne Swaney -

Your positive body image shouldn't change just because your body does.

Body Positivity and the College Experience

We all know that college is a transition. Over four years you're expected to transition from a child to an adult, from a face in a crowd to an individual and from a student to a professional. However, one transition that no one seems to want is the physical transition that our bodies must go through as students. We juggle classwork, assignments, part time jobs, research papers, and not to mention, the occasional social gathering. By the end of the week we sometimes (usually) find ourselves wondering where all our time went. Plenty of us manage to make it to the gym toting a sugar free iced coffee from Franks, but honestly? Our bodies take on a huge toll from semester to semester. The popular phrase "Freshman 15" seeps into our lives early on as students. Looking around at our peers we wonder, "Do they feel like this too?" More often than not, they do. We spend late nights studying for our dream jobs only to be reminded in the morning that we're too tired for an hour of gym time. And when we do manage to make it to the gym and eat something other than a chicken quesadilla, we don't give ourselves credit.

Here's the deal: Gaining and losing weight in college is normal. It happens to most of us because we get busy. Our lives are expanding faster than ever with friends, internships, clubs, you name it. We get caught up and then shame ourselves for the experience because we didn't have time (or money) for a weekly spinning session. The "Freshman 15" mentality is not only wrong, but it's ultimately dangerous to me and my fellow students. Weight fluctuation is something we will face as human beings for the rest of our lives. College is just another excuse to make ourselves and our peers more aware of it. So, if you're like me and you struggle with body shaming, here are some tips for being a more body positive student from this semester on out.

STOP talking about the Freshman 15. There are waaaay more interesting topics that also involve being body positive. Instead of focusing on phrases that bring people down, let's talk about phrases that are uplifting. Some suggestions are: Self-care, Black Lives Matter, Frozen Yogurt…the list goes on.

Don't obsess over the numbers. This is a big one because not only is it difficult, but it goes against everything we've been taught. From the size in your jeans to the numbers on the scale…we love to put our worth as people on a number line. But as human beings, we are so much more than numbers. Instead of focusing on a specific weight or size, focus on how you feel. Pay attention to your body because it will let you know what it needs and when. Imagine your life without the numbers and soon you'll be on your way to a happy, healthy, body-positive way of living. Dorm style.

Exercise because it feels good, not because you feel like you have to.  Exercising is not only good for our physical bodies, but it's good for our mental state! It can help you clear your head and focus. If you've spent the last two hours writing a paper, take a walk to clear your mind and stretch your legs. Attend one of the exercise classes offered here at Carlow! Get active because it makes you feel good and it may be a path to accepting your body for all of the things it can do. 

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