5 Lessons Being Curvy in a SoCal College Taught Me
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Health and Wellness

5 Lessons Being Curvy in a SoCal College Taught Me

Finally accepting myself was just the beginning-self love only covers so much territory.

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5 Lessons Being Curvy in a SoCal College Taught Me
Instyle.com

Going to college in Southern California as a native New Yorker, I already had enough to adjust to--the boiling weather, the lack of sarcastic humor, and the tiny detail of beginning college. I didn't expect there to be so much conflict surrounding body-image insecurities, judgments, and societal norms, but throughout this adventure, here are some of the experiences I have had-the good, the bad, but always entertaining encounters I have taken from my time.

The overwhelming, scary but exciting feeling of realizing that your body is considered unique around here.

Living in SoCal, where the ideal and typical body for women is skinny, toned and tan, initially instilled a lot of pressure. Before starting school, I worked out constantly, unhealthily controlled my eating and Facebook stalked all of the skinny girls in my class year. When I arrived and found few fellow curvy women, it was all the more anxiety-inducing. However, I realized over time that my body was not abnormal, but individual. Bodies don't make up the people, and they are not one's imperative strengths or flaws, but while you're young, feeling special is rare, and owning my curvy body was an empowering way to enjoy my uniqueness.

Also feeling really isolated because of this fact.

Backhanded compliments from well-intentioned friends to being fetishized for the booty, it's hard not to feel detached from other people at times. Being from New York, curvy women were a common occurrence for me, but around here if I were to lose all of my jeans not a single one of my friends could spare me a pair. Having people ask rude questions or making assumptions about my health and wellbeing is enough of an issue, but when there's no sense of camaraderie, it stings all the more. It's a lot of pressure to feel like the sole voice on your body type and constantly having to explain and defend your body without backup is frustrating.

Finally mastering feeling comfortable in little clothing.

The first time I put on a bikini and went to the beach with friends, I was terrified. But you can only wear jeans for so long, and that's not how life should be lived, especially in SoCal, where you either live in a constant state of being too hot in the daytime or bite the bullet and embrace the sun with all naked parts. Now when it's hot outside and I don't want to sweat, I'll take my shirt off no questions asked (or answered). By the end of my first year in college, I owned more crop tops and exposed more skin than ever before – and I loved it.

Realizing just how screwed up hookup culture can be for body image.

I've always loved partying. Dancing while wearing a banging outfit is a great confidence booster. However, when it came to hooking up at parties, I never felt adequate enough for people's affection. With all of the conventionally attractive bodies and shallow rating systems men have toward women's bodies, I knew I would never fit the SoCal mold for pretty or sexy. However, it wasn't finally hooking up with a guy that made me feel better about myself – it was accepting that hookup culture brings out the most insecure sides of all people, and to an extent, the most superficial. Once you finally stop comparing yourself to the other girls and enjoy being out with good friends and dancing, you'll realize that the sexiest trait in a person is not in weight or size, but in confidence and happiness.

Accepting that SoCal's emphasis and expectations of bodies are ridiculous and finally escaping the societal fear of never being "flawless."

Lena Dunham's voluptuous character in "Girls" says she does not diet because, "I decided I was gonna have some other concerns in my life." Especially in college, there are so many other things happening that your body becomes less and less important. Sure, conventional attractiveness makes life the slightest bit more comfortable, but it does not rule happiness, satisfaction and true beauty. Beauty does not mean flawless. Beauty does not mean being a size two or a size 20. Beauty is not working out, eating kale and tanning constantly. Beauty is happiness, and happiness is wanting what you have. Whether your body is curvy or thin, fat or bony, take your body and yourself and use both to project real beauty onto the world.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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