Opinion: Too much insecurity at BC

A few weeks ago my roommate had her class over in our room. I had been out in Coolidge Corner and arrived home very hungry around 6 pm. I spent the rest of the hour making pasta and eating it while listening to music in my room. Last week she had her class over again. I had gotten home around six again, but this time I scooted over into the living room to participate in the discussion after I had eaten my dinner at the table.

A Plex staffer was in our midst. She was a good friend of a good friend,  and it didn’t surprise me when she spoke of what she had seen while working at the Plex. She’s seen what I’ve seen, felt and detested.

Unfortunately, an infatuation with body image comes to many minds when thinking of Boston College. The Plex is often full of men and women working through their regimens. On the surface many people seem healthy, but that’s not always the case. How are we to define healthy? As we have it, it’s limited to such things as being skinny, athletic, or on a strict-diet.

I had a funny morning the other day. I was reading about physical changes throughout adulthood for my psychology class. I decided that I was going to find out where I fell on the Body Mass Index (BMI) chart. Like any other person, I was pretty flabbergasted when I found out I was just into the overweight range. But it didn’t matter to me; I know I’m a healthy girl. It surprised me because I love my body and that number told me otherwise.

But you see the eating disorders and the over-exercising that often go hand-in-hand aren’t always as obvious to me as they are to others. There are the hairy arms, the sunken cheeks, the withdrawn look, the preoccupation with food, the soft downy hair and a few other signs. It’s hard to place the physical symptoms with the mental ones.  But the mental ones inform the physical, and vice versa.

Most times, it is all too obvious. It’s usually a sure sign when someone mostly talks about what they ate, how healthy which foods are, or (very common) verbally assaults you with food porn. If they are often looking at pictures of food and never eating it, or making a lot of food and never eating it, you might want to assess further. The list of signs goes on and on. If you have a friend whom needs support, the people at BC University Counseling Services are wonderful. Women’s Resource Center offers a great resource to help you find how to help, where to get it and how to promote healthy body image on campus.

Some say anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating are common at BC especially. Some say it’s a college thing in general. Some say it’s a generational thing. But I think that our society, though it has progressed, still heavily values a specific mold and has for a long time. Last week I was talking to a friend who said that he doesn’t consider himself shallow because appearance influences his choice in romantic partner.

To each his own, I guess. If you like to be active, then you are most likely going to be interested in someone with a similar lifestyle. I do think that we all drift towards people somewhat similar to ourselves.  However, very often people let an appearance get in the way of getting to know someone. Virtual existence is represented by a picture of us from our best side.  It is hard for our society to connect without a visual of what our bodies look like.

Take Tinder, for example. It’s a website that matches you up with someone based on a profile photo. Or take Catfish, a TV show about people who fall in love online and want to finally meet their virtual lover. Sometimes the two meet and all is well. And other times, the virtual person is nothing like who they are in reality. People have been up in arms about these things. Are people just materializing and legitimatizing societal messages?

There is something to say about choosing one picture of ourselves to put on the Internet for others to judge whether or not they would date us. It is the epitome of superficiality. Those who are choosing to take part in such activities are both making themselves the hunted and the hunter; the predator and the prey.

The truth is, eating disorders are extremely prevalent and they affect everyone. 24 million men and women are binge eaters. And that’s definitely an underestimate. It’s a cycle, too. So generations grow to be adults and their odd eating patterns are justified either in their mind or in others because they look “good.” But ladies and gentlemen, health and the weight loss that people strive for aren’t always correlated!

Call me whatever you want. But I think a person’s energy says a whole lot more about a person’s beauty. People of all shapes and sizes are beautiful for all sorts of reasons. When you see someone thriving, they glow. When someone is comfortable around a group of people, the change in their behavior is wonderful. Confidence is the most attractive quality. And yes, it’s also beautiful to see someone getting or staying in shape. But my point is that you should know there is a whole lot more to beauty than that spring break bod.

Love your body. Don’t look to a Victoria’s Secret model for inspiration. Look to who you are. Getting in shape and eating right will make you happy. The emphasis is on RIGHT though. Just like everything else, when you go about something the wrong way, you don’t get to the same end. Screw what other people think. The only thing that matters is that you are living and working towards something. If you’re working on your body, that’s good for you. But don’t let your body be the only thing you’re concerned with. There is much, much more to life.

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