Goodbye, Freshman Fifteen

Banishing the idea that gaining weight is a tragedy

By Jemma Keleher

We’ve all heard it: “I shouldn’t eat this. I really don’t want to get the freshman fifteen” or “Wow, the freshman fifteen really hit her hard.” 

Despite its deceivingly benign connotations, in reality, the term “freshman fifteen” has harmful implications and plays a hand in promoting negative body image issues in students. Furthermore, it perpetuates the idea that gaining weight is the worst, most humiliating thing that can happen to someone. 

One of the most prevalent issues in our society is convincing individuals that gaining weight is shameful. This repressive culture is the exact thing that promotes eating disorders and severe body image issues. Consequently, students who do gain weight are defined by it. They’re no longer seen for their accomplishments and attributes; they’re seen and remembered for their apparent “failure.”

The truth is, who cares if you gain weight? Attending college is a momentous transition, and it is completely natural for a body to experience changes during such a stressful time. Your life is completely altered; you live on your own now, you make your own decisions, and you have full access to dining halls that are pretty much all-you-can-eat buffets. In addition, you’re experiencing new things and crossing unseen frontiers in your life. Your focus at this time should be living life, having fun, and learning new ideas—not scrutinizing what you eat in order to abide by society’s rules.

Put this into action and work to ditch the phrase all together. Stop posting about your workout routine to avoid the freshman fifteen, and stop beating yourself up for eating a full meal and treating yourself to ice cream afterwards. Dismantling the system of shame that suppresses people into self-hatred for their bodies has to start with individuals, and when it comes to change, there’s no better place to start with than yourself.

Wake Mag