“The Fifteen” Fallacies

Written by Gillianne Ross

Starting college can be terrifying, exciting, and a bit diarrheal. You’ve got a new home (which has mysterious stains on the rug), new friends (we all need them at this point), and new responsibilities (so set a fucking alarm and get moving, debt waits for nobody). Not only are there all these real facts of life looming over your head, but fictitious ones as well. For example: the freshman fifteen.

Not only is the freshman fifteen absolute shit, but it is unrealistic in more than one way. First off, women are not meant to stay the same size as they were at sixteen, or eighteen. It is from the same principle that you should grow from ages seven to ten; you mature more as you go from eighteen to twenty. While not everybody gains weight at the same pace, that does not mean that you are “failing” in any way by gaining a few pounds in your first year of college.

In my freshman year, most times that I would go into the dinning hall, I would hear the freshman fifteen mentioned in one capacity or another. More times than not, it was a passing reference, however, its continuous presence in our conversations, and perhaps in the back of our minds, alludes to a darker concept in American society. It is still seen as not okay for women to gain weight, and that creating unhealthy habits to attain a computer manipulated image of a woman, is more acceptable than fifteen pounds. 

Not only does this create an environment where unhealthy habits can breed, but it also makes mental health issues, such as eating disorders and depression, more acceptable. With such pressure to conform to unprecedented physical expectations, it makes it more challenging for those struggling to seek help. Your happiness does not depend on your weight. If someone has an issue with the way you look, then FUCK THEM. It is their problem and not yours.

It is time to finally put an end to the age of the freshman fifteen, and its insipid delusional and empty promises of happiness. 

“The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.” – Gloria Steinem