How the ‘Freshman 15’ is affecting your body image

By Kelsey Cardace

Photo by Rachel Kuipers
Photo by Rachel Kuipers

Workload is not the only thing that changes when people start college. The pressure to always look good causes people to alter their perceptions of their bodies.

The realization of one’s body image comes with the transition from high school to college. Students go from a small community of people they see daily to a large campus with thousands of people with different body types.

“Before, I didn’t really think much about my body,” Max An, a sophomore neurobiology and physiology major, said. “But then on campus, seeing all these other guys made me feel more self-conscious.”

First impressions are based on appearance, sophomore psychology major Katherine Calabrese said, and when people come to college in search of friendship and romance, the desire to have a perfect body to make good first impressions increases.

“There’s so much pressure to make friends and fit in,” Calabrese said. “A lot of that has to do with how you look.”

Sarah Sinnott, a freshman elementary education major who recently lost 50 pounds, said she wanted to look better for both male and female acceptance.

“The amount of attention you get has a lot to do with what you look like,” Sinnott said.

Unwind SeptOct-42
Photo by Rachel Kuipers

The infamous “freshman 15” is often to blame for a decline in body image. In college, students eat cheap food, drink more alcohol, sleep less and abandon their prior exercise routines.

“In college, I’m not nearly as active as I was in high school,” Calabrese said.

The challenge with achieving positive body image is that it comes with sacrifices, like spending more money on healthier food and devoting more time to exercise, which many college students are not willing to make.

Being comfortable with who you are, what you have and what you do not have is key to being happy, An said.

“Sometimes it’s important to compare yourself to others as a source of motivation to become better,” An said. “But at some point that becomes unnecessary and unhealthy.”

Instead of being preoccupied with the appearance of their bodies, students can focus on adopting a healthier lifestyle that can give them a more positive outlook.

“People ask me what my goal weight is, but I don’t have one,” Sinnott said. “It’s when I can look in the mirror and feel healthy and happy.”

Achieving a better attitude about body image would allow students to show better self-confidence, a quality that is as important as appearance to college students.


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