Going into college as a first year student is potentially one of the most frightening moments of one's young life. You are most likely going in to a whole new world, knowing no one at your school. Even if you know a great deal of people, you’re still in a new place, out of your comfort zone. Your parents aren’t there to take care of you, you have to do your own laundry from here on out - to sum it all up, it’s the beginning of the rest of your life. You will meet people your first year of college who will teach you more about yourself, and life then ever imagined. You will meet some of your closest friends in this year. You will also meet people who hurt you worse than you ever thought possible. You will meet people from all walks of life. Vulnerability takes on a whole new meaning your first year in college – and that’s exactly why we need to stop talking about the ‘Freshmen 15.’
Going into college one of the pieces of advice I heard the most was, “be careful of the dining hall – you don’t want to gain the freshmen 15!’ Not once did these people mention that most of the weight gained your first year in college is most likely from alcohol. Of course, the intentions were mostly good, however I don’t think people realize how truly detrimental that can be to someone’s mental health. If you are going into college and your main thought and priority is that you don’t want to gain weight, you aren’t in the right mindset. Of course there is nothing wrong with loving how you look and not really wanting to see a change that, but you shouldn’t be solely thinking about then when embarking into this new journey. It should not be made into the most important thing about college. You’re meeting new people left and right and of course, as a human being you want to look and feel your best. If you’re constantly worrying about those extra 15 pounds, you probably aren’t at your best – and you deserve your best chance, always.
The advice we should be talking about are things like, keep up on your schoolwork, know your limits, be careful whom you trust, get involved on campus. These pieces of advice test and celebrate someone’s character, not value their looks as if they are the most important thing about them. The second you tell someone that they need to watch out for the freshmen 15 is the second you are telling someone that what they need to focus on in college is, their looks. Body confidence issues are a real thing in men and women and when you’re trying to find yourself, having to conquer those issues can be really dangerous and also really hard. I think it’s time we put that slogan to rest. If you gain weight in college you gain weight. If you’re not comfortable with your body and want to feel healthier for you then so be it. The second you start doing it for others is the start to a dangerous path.
It’s time we focus on telling people to build themselves up in college, and make this experience what they want it to be. Not telling them that they need to “watch out” for their weight. Not to mention there are far more scary things about a college campus than gaining some weight - like sexual assault, harassment and stalking. Those are the things we should be preparing students for when they’re entering college. Tell students to respect themselves, know their worth and make these four years the best they can. We are more than the number on the scale and that needs to be addressed. We need to stop talking about the freshmen 15.