Mental Health, Thoughts, University

The ‘Freshers Fifteen’

When you start university you are plagued with leaflets and freebies; a new chapter of your life is starting where you are equally unprepared as you are ready. You are now an adult but not really, you become the ruler of Pasta Land – finding new ways to eat as many pot noodles as possible or consume as much junk food as you are physically able without going into your overdraft. All systems go and this is not a drill.

One of the things I found confusing when I arrived was the obsession with social media with the dreaded ‘Freshers Fifteen’. I was told I would either balloon up numerous dress sizes and never fit in my clothes again or I would lose weight and consequently drown under the folds of fabric. None of the previously mentioned appealed to me in any way, but it was very much something that stuck in my mind.

Why are millennials so obsessed with ‘perfect body images’ and coinciding with the pressures of social norms? In retrospect, I can clearly observe that I have gained weight over the last couple of years. But the real question is does this matter? Not really. Does my cellulite and wiggly stretch marks define me as a person? Hell no. My jeans are a little tighter, my anklet can sometimes make me look like a gammon joint, but I am the happiest I have ever been.

In 2015 I was at my smallest, but I was not happy and I was very confused about what I wanted to do with my life. When people seem to travel or go to university weight seems to be the easiest insult to injury. In the words of J.K Rowling – ‘is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’?’. There is the ‘has she gained weight?!’ and the ‘let’s look at her Instagram I’ll show you’. There is such an obsession with appearance over the way that individuals live their life.

I would like to be known as someone who always tries their hardest, who enjoys helping people and has grown as a person since coming to university. Similarly, as I was experiencing life away from home, I began to flourish out of my comfort zone – answering phones were no longer something that filled me with dread but something I would do on daily basis without thought; I could happily converse with strangers and quickly developed a new group of wonderful friends. During the past two years, I have gone up a dress size from a size 6-8 to a size 8-10. My stretch marks have blossomed in places I never knew they could. Cellulite is now my best friend, currently residing on my chunky horse rider thighs.

Apparently, I was an elusive victim of the dreaded ‘Freshers Fifteen’. I wanted buns of steel, but I also wanted buns of cinnamon. Due to my attraction to all things pastry, my belly rolls got a little bigger and my double chin emerged from its pre-Christmas dinner hole. There is no shame in losing weight, gaining weight or becoming a partridge in a pear tree as long as you are healthy. You are not defined by your dress size. Your dress size does not always mean that you are unhealthy. The scales do not always indicate your health or wellbeing.

I did not punish myself for having a takeaway too many when I was adjusting to life away from home, just as I do not criticise others for having meals with their boyfriends, or going out for yet another pint. You are allowed to enjoy life and do things as you please as long as it does not become self-destructive.You are not a ‘failure’. You are beautiful – your ‘exterior’ does not define your worth. Your body has got your through 100% of your worst days – give yourself more credit.

Gracie Francesca’s post on the same subject: http://www.graciefrancesca.com/2017/04/a-few-important-things-gaining-weight.html

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