If you ask a room full of girls to raise their hand if they have ever tried to lose weight, chances are that every hand will go up. There is a beauty standard in society that penetrates into women’s beliefs that they have to be thin to be considered beautiful. Not only is thinness seen as more attractive in our society, but it is seen as healthier than being overweight. However, research shows that restricting your food intake to lose weight is even more detrimental to health than having a BMI considered “unhealthy.”
With Spring Break and summer right around the corner, there is an exorbitant amount of societal and cultural pressure on female college students to “tone up” and get their “bikini bodies” ready. We are bombarded with ads for weight loss apps, workouts, and meal plans. Women constantly compare themselves to images that they see on social media, which are often completely unrealistic—the women in the pictures are perfectly posed and edited to create the image of the “perfect” female body.
My senior year of high school, I spent several months chasing what I thought was the perfect body. I spent hours in the gym, restricted my caloric intake, and limited how much chocolate I ate—and if you know me, you know that there are very few things that make me as happy as chocolate does. And when I finally did achieve rock-hard abs, I still wasn’t as happy as I was when I let myself eat as much chocolate as I wanted. While my experience with being pressured to lose weight and be “perfect” has not been ideal, I know I am not alone. I know for a fact that I am not the only female college student who can relate to the pressures that society puts on women to be thin.
About a year ago, I discovered the Body Positive Movement on social media. This movement focuses on helping women learn to love their body as it is and live a full life, without worrying about losing weight or fitting society’s ideal standard of beauty. An influencer who has helped me immensely is Rini Frey (@OwnItBabe on Instagram). One of my favorite analogies that Rini uses is that we wouldn’t expect a husky to weigh the same as a chihuahua, so we shouldn’t expect all women to weigh the same either.
Now, I know that I do not need to look a certain way to be beautiful or healthy. I do not plan on going on a diet for Spring Break or for summer, and neither should you. I plan on eating as much chocolate as I want, going to the gym when I feel like it, and trying every day to love my body as it is right now.