Body positivity at USD
As National Eating Disorder Awareness Week came and went a couple weeks ago, I was disappointed by the lack of attention it garnered here at the University of San Diego. As young adults, we are a part of the age group most affected by eating disorders and disordered eating.
California outnumbers every other state by far for population that suffers from eating disorders, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. I am glad that USD recognizes the week in a small way, but I just don’t feel like it is enough.
Living in San Diego, we are constantly on the beach. Whether we are tanning, swimming, or partying, the amount of clothes we wear is typically extremely minimal. And during beautiful weeks like this one, we are still probably wearing minimal clothing just going to class.
The constant documenting we all do via Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook means that every day our physical appearances have the potential to be uploaded and seen by all of our friends. Add that on to the pressure that college already puts on us to look our best, whether that is the desire to appear attractive to romantic interests, our sorority sisters, or our new friends.
We are constantly told that college is the time to live it up and put ourselves out there, and do those things while we are at our physical prime. Factor this all together, and it’s almost impossible not to be worried about the way we look.
What worries me the most about the prevalence of eating disorders and disordered eating in our age group is that it seems to have become a mindset ingrained in our culture. Whether that be eyeballing each other’s plates when we’re choosing dinner at the SLP, commenting “so skinny!” on our friends’ Instagrams like it’s a compliment, or even just the obsession with bodies in popular culture in general, it is clear to me that skinniness is important to most people. The mindset is that we all need to be thin, praise each other for attaining thinness, and reinforce its attractiveness.
I have always referred to myself as “curvaceous,” and by no means am I ashamed of that. What does make me unhappy, however, is when the immediate response I receive when calling myself curvy is “No, you’re not! Don’t say that!” Even though this is my friends trying to pay me a compliment, I’ve realized that the rejections of words like “curvy” subtly instills an ideology in people not to celebrate any body type that isn’t perfectly thin. I may have started off happy and proud to say that I was curvaceous, but when I receive backlash, I have to question whether or not I actually should be proud of my body.
I don’t know what it takes to change a mindset so deeply instilled in us, but a good first step would be to at least put things out in the open. By starting a dialogue about disordered eating at USD, hopefully we can erase the stigma and see a more diverse range of beautiful bodies at the beach this spring.