Body Image: A Story of Weight Gain and Self Reflection

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

You read that right. Today we’re going to be talking about the wonderful world of body image and the effects that college has on our self esteem. Personally speaking, I have been struggling recently with accepting the new body I have adopted since coming to college – my legs are wider, my butt is bigger, and frankly, my stomach protrudes more as well. Now, you’re probably thinking okay bitch we get it, you gained weight, but that’s not it at all.

In high school I was a toothpick, skinny to the point that people would make jokes about me needing to eat a burger or two. I weighed closer to 100 pounds back then, and since coming to college, I am now closer to 130.

I remember finding this out while at the JMU health center. They weighed me, as always, and the scale came back with a scary little number that I was not used to seeing. How can that be right? I thought to myself in a panic as the kind nurse wrote it down and took me back to the exam room. I guess I never really had to watch what I ate; I was used to always being a twig since I was young, my long gangly limbs sprouting out everywhere when I hit puberty at the ripe age of 11 years old.

So why am I telling you all this? Am I just airing out my dirty laundry for you all to see?

Not exactly, but there is a point to what I am trying to say, I swear. We need to normalize talking about our bodies, specifically female bodies, in a positive way. Whenever I bring up my weight or body image to my friends, someone is always around to tell me to stop, you’re gorgeous or reprimand me by saying you’re crazy! And while I appreciate these comments, sometimes a girl really just needs to vent so she can work towards becoming more comfortable in her own skin.

A study constructed by the PMC titled Body Image Satisfaction Among Female College Students summarized my point quite simply, stating that; “Currently, beautiful is considered good and thinness is synonymous with beauty, which makes it valued by society while its opposite, obesity, is strongly rejected. Although the ideals of female beauty vary as a function of esthetical standards adopted at each time, studies show that women have tried to change their bodies to follow these standards.” This study was created in 2012, yet the fact that women have continuously fought to fit the standard of beauty remains consistent – especially on college campuses.

That being said, I am slowly becoming more confident with my newfound appearance. It has been a struggle, especially when I look on social media and see girls who are working it like nobody’s business. But they DESERVE to work it! We need to continue to grow and love ourselves as women – regardless of the body type you do or don’t have.

I am now hopping down from my soapbox and letting my partner in crime take the stand with her own individual story about her struggles with body image. Take it away, @willyoumarymeqt!

Thanks @thekillerqueen! I have always been one of those lucky women who did not really see anything wrong with my body growing up. I had very high self-esteem that I built up so that I wouldn’t be brought down. However, both of my sisters struggled with their bodies. I would always reassure them, but they would always tell me to fuck off.

A few months before I came to JMU, I went vegan. I lost about 30 pounds and I know what all of you are thinking, FUCK OFF – my siblings told me the same thing. I, however, was a fan of having curves, and at that moment I felt like skin and bones – it was not what I wanted to look or feel like in the slightest. I then tried to become vegetarian, but it was too late and my stomach could not handle dairy anymore. This was the first time in my life when I sighed looking in the mirror. 

After a couple of months into college, I started gaining weight again and finally reached the weight I felt comfortable in. I was thrilled and felt really good about myself. However, after quarantine and going on Lexapro, I gained an extra 30 pounds I did not want. I have always had a fast metabolism so gaining this much weight was rare for me. I started getting very self-conscious. I started to understand exactly what my siblings would tell me.

I try my best to eat as well as possible but it doesn’t seem to help. I now hate picking out clothes because my brain tells me I look bad in them. I see my long-distance boyfriend once in a while, and every time I see him, I’m always afraid he might mention something about my weight gain. 

I feel very vulnerable, and because of that, I started doing a lot of internal reflections in order to try to hype myself up every day. I understand it is hard to hype yourself when your thoughts seem to be against you. However, it is important to be your own biggest fan. The negative self-talk can really bring you down, but if you are able to alter it to seem more positive, it helps tremendously.

I have had some really tough days as of recently, but the lovely queens in my life, who are constantly complimenting me and hyping me up, are amazing. I have made it a personal goal of mine to do the same for other women as much as I can. One compliment can really go a long way.

From us both, we fully encourage you all to continue to love yourself as much as possible and give love to others as well, so we can all be CONFIDENT BEAUTIFUL QUEENS together.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

For more information on Body Image Issues among College Students:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3830171/

https://muse.jhu.edu/article/189019

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