So, everybody knows about ‘the freshman fifteen’ right? It’s what adults jokingly warn you about and what college girls often hit the gym to avoid.
What baffles me is how casually people talk about ‘the freshman fifteen’ in conversations pertaining to college, as if they’re warning you about something as simple as catching a cold rather making comments that can be detrimental to how a person views their weight. People talk about ‘the freshman fifteen’ like it’s one of college’s big obstacles that you must conquer in order to be successful… like final exams or term papers.
And if you fail this test, you fail hard (or so it feels) because of all of the stigma surrounding this specific amount of weight gain during a specific year. You worry people will assume you drink and party too much, or you’re not responsible for your health and have no self-control.
My question is, why does it matter?
Why does it matter if you gain five or fifteen or twenty pounds? People gain and lose weight over and over again a bunch of times throughout life, and for a bunch of different reasons. If you’re already healthy, a bit of weight gain isn’t going to completely crush your health. And a bit of weight gain, on its own, isn’t going to crush your confidence or sense of self-love, either. That’s something we do to ourselves. (With the help of society’s weight-gain-shaming tendencies, that is.)
You have no reason to feel ashamed of gaining weight; whether it’s during your freshman year of college or any other time, and whether it’s five pounds of thirty-five. I’m serious. Here are ten reasons why:
- A bit of weight gain isn’t going to make you terribly unhealthy
If you were basically healthy before you gained weight, you’ll most likely still be basically healthy after. Health is *so* much more than your weight or BMI; it’s about how you treat your body overall.
- Weight gain doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t exercise
News flash: Not everyone exercises with the sole purpose of losing weight, and not everyone who’s physically fit is thin.
- Weight gain doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t eat healthy
Like I will continuously reiterate throughout this list, there are many different reasons why people gain weight. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re eating donuts for every meal. And if you are eating a lot of junk? It’s alright. This stuff happens. And you can work on eating healthier without obsessing over losing weight.
- Weight gain doesn’t mean you are lazy/ don’t have your life together
Gaining weight does not automatically mean you’re a slob with a messy dorm room who turns in papers two weeks late. Feeling like a mess is super common in college, but it doesn’t discriminate by body size.
- ‘Beautiful’/’hot’/’cute’ are not synonymous with ‘skinny’.
Despite what fashion magazines may tell you, you don’t have to cinch your waist with an itty-bitty belt or wear skirts that cover your thighs in order to look darn good. I’m not just saying this to be nice. There are so many women of all different body types who slay when it comes to fashion and beauty. And they do it by embracing what they’ve already got.
- Weight gain happens for lots of perfectly valid reasons.
Weight gain is a part of life, and it can happen for a thousand different reasons related to mental health, lifestyle changes, stress, physical health, or even your environment. Whatever your reason is, you don’t need to feel bad about it or come up with a better “excuse.” You are valid, and so is your body. And you don’t have to defend or explain it to anybody.
- When you experience big changes in your life, it’s only natural that changes in yourself and your body will follow.
There are countless people who have realizations or changes regarding their mental health when they come to college and may even attend counseling or therapy as a result. This is totally fine, right? We’re all in agreement on that? College is a huge life change after all. On the flip side, there are also countless people who have realizations or changes regarding their bodies and physical health when they come to college. And that’s also totally fine. When you think about it, It makes sense that big life changes would correlate with changes about yourself, too; inside or out.
- Weight gain is *SO* normal and common.
It happens to everyone at least once in their life, and it happens to many people as they become adults and figure out how to take care of themselves and their body. There’s no shame in that.
- Your body will probably change again in the future.
You will lose weight and gain weight again within your lifetime. You won’t look exactly the same for all of your adult life (it wouldn’t make sense if you did). But at this point, you don’t need to make it a goal to lose weight ASAP. Try to work on accepting yourself as you are first, and trust that your body is exactly how it’s meant to be right now.
- Nobody’s thinking about how you look nearly as much as you are.
You’ve probably heard this one before, but it’s sometimes hard to wrap your head around. Thoughts about our bodies often occupy so much of our inner dialogue, but the truth is that a lot of people have a hard time noticing when someone gains or loses weight unless it’s a really significant change.
- People will only view your body as a “failure” if you treat it like a “failure.”
This is a big one. If people do notice that you’ve gained weight, the way they perceive it will be shaped largely by the way you present it. When people can sense something that you’re ashamed of, they often subconsciously internalize it as something shameful. But if you treat it as just another part of life, often times so will they.