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Dear Girls at American

Dear girls at American,

As a woman, I have obviously faced the overwhelming pressure from people and society in terms of body weight and image. I’ve grown up with it, as so many of us have, and can remember always feeling at least somewhat negative about the way I look as far back as 4th grade. And to some extent, if I’m being honest, I still fall into the trap sometimes and believe negative thoughts about my appearance. I’m sure we can all relate. But in the past couple of years, I’ve definitely stopped focusing so much on body image and have learned to accept myself more.

But this was not an overnight change for me, and I know there are certainly many women who are still struggling with this on a daily basis. So it should not have surprised me when I heard the conversation I did when I was in TDR this weekend. I overheard a girl talking to her friend and the small portion of the conversation went like this:

“I want a donut so badly, but I can’t take it. It’s gonna start getting warm out and I’m gonna look like a whale after this winter .”

“Me neither. Don’t let me put it on my plate if I go for it.”

They honestly looked so conflicted, and I could tell they were in no way joking around. They were absolutely determined to not eat those donuts and keep walking. This is definitely not the first time I’ve heard something like this or have even said something similar myself. I encounter this on almost a daily basis with friends and others I interact with. However, this time it actually sank in and it made me really stop and think. Girls honestly can’t even eat a single donut if they’re in the mood to? Who says? Why do they believe that?

 I am clearly not oblivious to all the documentaries, studies, articles and speeches about body image and the media or the entire conversation surrounding this pervasive issue in today’s society that’s been going on for ages. I know that this issue exists and that it’s a product of many complex, intertwined problems like media, its widespread influence, societal expectations that date back to as long as we can remember and others. So it shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did. There’s unfortunately still too much of an obsession over our bodies.

Let me first say this. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being fit or wanting to stay healthy. But it should be just that. Being healthy. And eating one donut will not affect that whatsoever. Remember, moderation, not deprivation. If you want that donut, EAT IT. It’s not getting any fresher! So girls, please stop falling into the trap and believing the myth that even just one donut is going to “kill your diet” or “ruin your calorie count” or make you look awful in that dress you’re wearing this weekend.  I’m not going to say the cliché “you’re beautiful just the way you are” or anything similar to that because I think as women we’ve also heard that so many times that it means almost nothing anymore. Hearing it doesn’t seem to stop us from doing what we’re doing. So I’ll just say this: Indulge and enjoy. Don’t feel guilty, defeated or regretful! YOU DESERVE IT!

This is definitely not to take away from the seriousness of eating disorders or other conditions at all. All I’m saying is that it is so important to be comfortable in your body and being however “thin” is not the only way you could feel that way. As someone who has come a long way in accepting the way I look and fully coming to terms that I will never have a thigh gap or perfectly flat stomach because my body type doesn’t call for either of those, (and I just love food too damn much) I can honestly tell whoever’s reading this that life gets so much better when you stop battling yourself and focusing so much energy on counting calories. So go ahead, eat that donut and love it too.

 

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My name is Gabby, I'm a sophomore at American University and I'm majoring in Communication Studies.
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