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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

Diet culture has always been slyly incorporated into our everyday lives through social media and from older generations where diet culture and toxic body image was common. I’ve listed a few different ways that I have found that it’s incorporated in college, also known as the best years of our life. 

“Girl Dinner”

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE a good girl dinner, especially when I’m really not in the mood to actually go get something or cook anything. My favorite combination is veggie straws (sea salt or ranch are the superior flavors), Diet Coke, a honey-roasted turkey tortilla wrap, grapes, and hummus. Girl dinner was a trend that first started as something cute and fun, with girls posting their meals that consisted of Annie’s White Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese, a handful of baby carrots, blueberries, Cheez-Its, and wine–items that typically aren’t put or served together.

However, what once was a cute trend has turned into people posting on social media (mainly Snapchat or Tiktok) a pack of fruit snacks and their vape, calling it a meal. That is not a real meal. I’ve found that especially since I’ve been living on campus, it’s becoming a more romanticized danger. Particularly in the dining halls, I see some girls with a different array and combinations of flavors. But some others post later that they only had a Topo Chico Margarita and a snack bag of Goldfish, still labeling it “girl dinner”.

Glamour Magazine interviewed registered dietitian and CEO of Culina Health Vanessa Rissetto about the latest trend, and she agrees that “…if you are doing girl dinner every night, or using it as an excuse to undereat, it can be a slippery slope… Eating only pickles for dinner, drinking Coke Zero as your meal—this trend can fall into the disordered eating territory, especially when it comes to people promoting and applauding it…”. In college, undereating can become glamourized and romanticized rapidly. 

Going Out

I love going out on the weekends. I absolutely do. I think that my favorite part though is the anticipation of getting ready to go looking as fabulous as you can with your cute outfit, your favorite lip gloss locked and ready to go; then packing your pockets or adorable bag, making sure your hair looks perfect, taking pictures with your friends, and slamming a hydration stick or Gatorade before you step out of the door. I adore every aspect about it that screams “girlhood.” But, that beautiful and raw sense of girlhood can be clouded by girls believing that they can’t enjoy pasta or ice cream before they go out because they need to “look their best” for whomever they are interested in or for pictures. This way of thinking peaks the closer it gets to the weekend, sometimes even beginning on Thursday for those participating in “Thirsty Thursday.” From Thursday until Sunday, girls are eating as low as one meal a day or just snacking throughout the day to maintain their “morning body.” In the TED Talk If we want a better world we have to kill diet culture. by Susan Hyatt, she states that “Millions of girls and women devote their brilliance, mental capacity, and emotional intelligence to shrinking their waistline instead of expanding their lives”. 58% of college-aged women feel pressure to conform and be skinnier. That is not living. Unfortunately, it’s incredibly normalized and even praised for someone’s commitment or discipline.

“Freshman 15”

The horror around gaining the “Freshman 15” is a tale as old as time. It existed when our parents were in college, it existed before then, and it’s still just as prevalent in today’s society. Hearing from people who actively tried to or are trying to avoid gaining the “Freshman 15” increases the fear of food and weight gain. Attempting to avoid the “Freshman 15” is not worth it. Aiming to avoid gaining weight hinders the authentic college experience. If you worry too much about gaining weight, you’ll miss out on experiences with new friends like going to Insomnia Cookies on The Hill, inhaling a Cosmos pizza in less than 5 minutes with your friends to beat the record, or enjoying a seasonal PSL (hot or iced, I don’t judge). Many freshmen on campus skip meals to save calories for when they go to frat or apartment parties so that they can either have enough calories for how much alcohol they’re planning on consuming or so that they can get drunk quicker without any food in their system. However you’re planning on living your best life in college, dieting or restricting yourself is never, ever the answer.

The Casual Comments 

It’s difficult to not compare meals, especially with the casual disordered comments floating throughout the campus. I know we’ve all heard comments like “I slept through my alarm so I’m only having coffee for breakfast,” “I’ve had too many carbs, I have to hit the Stair-Master,” “At least I can walk all these calories off,” “You ate breakfast this morning? Couldn’t be me.” or “I can’t eat that, I’m going out tonight” floating throughout campus. These remarks are more apparent than one may think. JUST AS A REMINDER: do not give in to those comments that make their way into your subconscious thoughts. You deserve to consume whatever you want and need. Social media has made it difficult to maintain a positive mindset when it comes to body image and thoughts regarding food. On social media, people are constantly promoting an unrealistic beauty standard (particularly for women) and promoting unhealthy mindsets about food disguised in a lighthearted or quirky tone. Hearing these comments often enough makes us compare how we look or what we’re eating, and comparison kills your spirit. Even without consciously processing the statements made inadvertently, if we hear them often enough it becomes a small voice in the back of our minds. The goal is to not let it get to you. You do not need to change who you are. 

“You only get one body. One life. Make it count.” – Susan Hyatt

Lachlan is a new member of the Her Campus Chapter at CU Boulder this 23-24 academic school year. Along with being a new writer, she is also on the social team, working with a team of fellow writers to create posts for the HCCU Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, and VSCO. Lachlan is a first-year student at CU Boulder majoring in Psychology with a minor in Business. In HCCU, she hopes to find a new passion and to expand her creativity. She's very passionate about anything food/coffee related, feminism, discussing social media, and mental health. Outside of writing and school, she loves to cook, read romance books, listen to new music, stalk her Spotify Daylist, and explore new restaurants and coffee shops. You can usually find her either watching the same 3 rom-coms on rotation or scrolling through Pinterest.