Staying Body-Positive When You're Studying Abroad And Surrounded By Food
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Staying Body-Positive When You're Studying Abroad And Surrounded By Food

"It's one step at a time" — Jordin Sparks

Staying Body-Positive When You're Studying Abroad And Surrounded By Food
Dana Joy Seigelstein

"I am never eating pasta again after this semester"

"I need to workout I just ate an entire pizza"

"I am going on a diet"

"I'm going to get a salad because I feel disgusting"

"I've gained so much weight since I've been here"

"I'm going to do a juice cleanse it's cheaper than going out and eating pasta and pizza"

I studied abroad in Italy this past spring and these are all things people have actually said to me since being here. At Virginia Tech (where I go to school when I'm not booling in Europe) I am a part of a group called The Body Project. Point blank; I promote body positivity to groups of sorority women, we discuss the pressures of looking a certain way and we talk about ways to "derail" fat talk.

An example of fat talk would be saying "I need to go on a run after this meal because I am going to feel disgusting." Basically, any dialogue where you shame your body or other people's bodies- a lot of common dialogue with women in their high school and college years can be "fat-talk" whether or not they realize they are doing it.

Being in Italy, their main staple foods are pasta and pizza. I have seen these past months as a learning experience for my palette — I have tried foods I've never heard of and sometimes don't even know what I order when I order it. I constantly have the mindset of "I don't know when the next time I'm going to be here is, so dig in" (I say to myself after my fourth cheesecake of the night).

There were so many times over this semester when I would hear people I just met complaining about their bodies, saying how fat they feel and how they need to go on a diet. This has become such a common conversation topic that after someone will say "I need to go on a run I just had PROSCIUTTO PIZZA" someone else needs to say "YOU HAD PROSCIUTTO PIZZA? WELL, I HAD SPAGHETTI CARBONARA, LOOK AT THESE THIGHS" and then all of a sudden people are going back and forth seeing who can shame themselves more.

It was hard to step in a lot of times being that I would just meet these people and they would say these things that usually would be a trigger for me but I almost felt powerless because there was no convincing them otherwise. I am fully aware that everyone feels differently about their bodies, but the danger of talking like this (while there are many reasons) is it elicits insecurities from people listening to the conversation that maybe they didn't know they had in the first place. Hearing that someone else "HAS TO GO ON A RUN" after eating the same exact meal that you just ate can mess with someone's mind... understandably, yes?

What I would always end up telling them was to enjoy the time now while we are young and living in ITALY to eat up, drink up and live it up because I am more than positive that in 3 months I am going to miss going to a restaurant and choosing from over 50 pastas and 100 sauces rather than getting that salad for dinner.

I consider myself lucky to be a part of The Body Project because these values have been ingrained in my head for almost two years, and I carry them with me every day. I am aware that not everyone thinks like that, nor is everyone capable of thinking that way but I want to encourage everyone to try their best to think positively about their body and embrace who you are! It allows you to enjoy the present. Give compliments, tell your friends and family you love them and eat that damn gelato.

"Nothing tastes as good as skinny feelspizza"

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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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