Dear lovely young women at college,
First off, you are beautiful daughters of God. No one can ever take that from you, so cling to it with all of your being. His love for you is just as unconditional as the beauty you hold.
As women, we have an obligation to each other and ourselves. The media and society as a whole tells us so many lies each day: we must be skinny to be happy, the “freshman 15” is our biggest fear, you have to be dissatisfied with your body, avoid all of the “bad” foods, you should consume under X calories per day, compare your body to others, sustain yourself with plain salads, being fat is the worst thing that can happen to you, diets are a must at all times, self-love is not necessary or possible. Most of us believe at least some of these and live by them each day.
Putting faith in any of the above lies or others like them is extremely damaging. Suddenly, body image, self-love, and sense of worth go out the window. Unfortunately it doesn’t end there. Every day, we share diet tips, dissatisfaction with our bodies, calorie contents of foods comment on other’s “strength” if they are able to skip a meal or lose a pound. Distorted thoughts and feelings towards ourselves, our bodies, and food multiply.
Undoubtedly, this hurts everyone who participates in or overhears the conversations, but what about those who already have severe body image problems or even an eating disorder? Imagine bravely heading into the dining hall for another meal you don’t feel you deserve and fear, only to stand in line behind a few girls talking about how little food they’ve eaten. To someone without these issues, it seems like that comment wouldn’t hurt anyone, but in truth it can be one of many that cause an ED sufferer to feel worse about themselves and the food they are about to eat. Likewise, hearing girls complain about their size would be detrimental to someone with poor body image and add to her negative thoughts.
You can never know for sure if your words like these are hurting someone, even yourself. Because no good can ever come of it, let’s make an effort to shift our conversations. We need to work together to promote body positivity, health over size, foods not being inherently good or bad, and loving ourselves just as we are. Imagine how much this world would change.
The choice here is ours.
A college freshman
If you or someone you know is struggling with body image, an eating disorder, or disordered eating please get help. This website has tons of great articles on all of these topics http://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/