Being comfortable in your own skin

College has its variety of lessons as each student makes the challenging transition to adulthood. Our parents are no longer watching us, and that can sometimes result in poor choices. The biggest shock for myself was the amount of eating disorders I have either seen or heard of. 

Before my time in college, my food was always made for me and I did not have to think or plan what I was going to eat that day. I knew the healthy basics, but my mind was never fixated on exercise or how skinny another person was compared to me.

Now, being in college, the biggest topic of conversation between my friends and me is going to the gym,  feeling guilty for what we ate the other day, or even comparing ourselves to other thinner girls. 

It is sad how our brains are constantly wrapped around the idea of being skinny rather than being healthy. 

Last year I had an experience with a close friend that lost a lot of weight during a summer away from school. Everyone noticed when she had gotten back and they were constantly commenting on her pictures saying things such as, “You are so tiny!” and, “You look amazing! Keep it up!” 

Personally, I was very proud of her until the weight continued to come off.  I had many people start to come up to me and ask me if she was OK and if she had an eating disorder.

Never dealing with an experience like this before, I was scared to talk to her about this, but I knew it was my place as a close friend. 

She admitted it started to become an addictive feeling when she kept losing weight, and that it felt good to have people notice.

Hearing stories like this is not uncommon for me anymore, and it is sad that our definition of beauty is based on a number on the scale.  

I believe the obsession has a lot to do with media. Pictures of models with their rib cages showing, the annual Victoria Secret Fashion Show, thousands of weight-loss videos and pills. No wonder it controls us when we’re constantly surrounded by it. 

This goes for guys too. The pressure they feel to become more muscular in order to be more attractive or manlier can easily turn into just as big of an obsession. 

Learning the difference between being healthy and being obsessed to a point where diet and exercise controls your life is something I feel many of us need to recognize. 

With roughly 8 million Americans having an eating disorder, it is safe to say this isn’t something we should take lightly. 

It is okay to allow yourself a cheat meal every once in a while without getting angry with yourself for it. We are all human and are allowed to enjoy the little things every so often. 

Being secure in your own skin comes from our own perception of ourselves. If we resort to society’s standard to gain confidence, we will always fall short. 

Judging people for their body types is never okay and I hope our society will one day tone down all the added pressures. 

With that said, enjoy the holiday season and all the home cooked meals. Stay happy and healthy, but don’t be afraid to have that extra helping of mashed potatoes.