The other day a friend of mine shared a truly horrifying news article with me. The report shows how what we have accepted as “societal norms” can contribute to the issue of self esteem that is currently rampant among young girls. From personal experience I know just how damaging it is to be told at a young age that you are “fat” or “heavier” than the rest of your peers. It made me feel like a pariah and without a doubt played a role in the development of my eating disorder. I strived to be on the smallest end of the spectrum and as a result I had very little self esteem and was constantly consumed by my goal to lose weight. It was a miserable existence in all honesty. This is why I think I reacted so strongly to the story of nine year old Gwendolyn Williams who was told by her school, based on her BMI, that she is obese.
As you can see, in the picture above, Gwendolyn is no where near being obese, let alone even overweight. In fact she is an extraordinarily healthy young girl who only now, because of her diagnosis of having a high BMI, has started questioning the adequacy of her own physical appearance. She is only nine years old and weight should not be on her radar. She should be playing outside, learning in school, and cultivating meaningful friendships instead of worrying about what her BMI means. Fortunately, Gwendolyn’s mother saw right through the BMI measurements and took a stand against the evaluation that her daughter is obese. She fought the school and has gone public about just how damaging these assessments can be on young children. We need more parents like Mrs. Williams who are motivated to stand up for their children’s well being and recognize that BMI assessments are outdated. In further support of the possible damaging affects that this “fitness assessment” based on a child’s BMI, can have on children, a representative from the Binge Eating Disorder Association stated that “dieting, especially for kids, is the gateway drug for eating disorders, and so is the public shaming that can come with this.” This reinforces the fact that it is crucial that we change how we talk to young children about weight and also that we teach them that it is not what is on the outside that matters, but what is on the inside. I know that I no longer take BMI measurements very seriously and I hope that each of you further your understanding of this outdated practice and come to your own educated conclusions.
If someone had asked me at the beginning of the year how I would feel upon the day of my graduation I would have answered “relieved, ready, and so over college.” Today, however, just a few days into my life as a post grad I am sad and overwhelmed, but also extraordinarily proud, grateful, and happy. I know that I have said this a million times over, but I just can’t believe that I made it to this point. There were so many times when I wanted to throw in the towel, yet I didn’t, and I must thank all of you who supported me and knew that I could persevere when I, myself, was unsure. All of the countless pep talks, supportive meals, and words of wisdom I received from you all truly helped me to see that I not only had a chance at recovery, but that I could go back to college and thrive in that environment.
This past week was all about celebrating what I thought of as impossible and finally recognizing that I am braver than I believe, stronger than I seem, and smarter than I think. So, here are some photos from this amazing week with the people I will always care about and remember forever.
First Chance Dance
Thorndike Oak Toast
Portland Pub Crawl
Last Chance Dance
The ceremony was beautiful and filled with ample traditions, which made the day all the more special. Tears, laughter, and joy filled the air and as I marched through campus all I could think about was how proud I am to be a Bowdoin College polar bear. You can even check it out for yourselves in this AMAZING vimeo, which gives you a sneak peek at the splendor of the ceremony. Although this is the end of the era it is also the start of a new chapter in my life and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store. Stay tuned 😉
For my senior sociology seminar our final assignment was to address/participate in some form of public sociology. My group, which was comprised of five senior girls including myself, choose to focus on finding an effective and meaningful way to educate and bring awareness to the body image issue that has such a dominant presence on most college campuses. The actual definition and explanation of body image, “refers to the way we perceive our own bodies and the way we assume other people perceive us. It is not inborn, but learned. This learning occurs in the family and among peers, but these only reinforce what is learned and expected culturally.” (Lightstone, 1991) Body image is clearly a sensitive topic and far too few people in today’s society are satisfied with their physical appearance. This is devastating and it is thus crucial that we come together and find methods to combat this societal and cultural problem.
In an effort to effectively address the body image issue on our own college campus we planned a programming event that is amazing and will definitely help bring awareness and education to this topic. Fat Talk Free Week, which occurs during the last week in October, was started by Tri-Delta Sorority. The goal of Fat Talk Free week is to: “draw attention to body image issues and the damaging impact of the ‘thin ideal’ on women in society.” The purpose of Bowdoin’s Fat Talk Free Week will be to generate awareness around body image at Bowdoin College and in the greater community, as well as educate others about positive body image. This will be an awesome start to the semester and will really get the conversation about body image going on campus. We truly hope that once a group (Beauty is Colorful) is established that is willing to take on the authority of spreading this message, than body image conversations will have a permanent presence on this campus. Through creating a safe and comfortable environment for individuals to share their own experiences and talk about such a personal topic hopefully some of the stigmas surrounding this issue will disappear. We also have even created a poster campaign that will hopefully help kickstart the group. Here are the beautiful posters:
Through participating in this project I truly realized that even the smallest efforts can make a difference. So I encourage everyone to start today by filling in the statement below:
“I am beautiful because I see the good in others”
Happy Monday everyone!
“Girls everywhere deserve access to education. But it’s a fundamental human right of every girl to be safe from harm.
Three weeks ago, almost 300 schoolgirls were abducted in Chibok, Nigeria and the world was slow to act. Because of your efforts, global leaders are now beginning to take a stand and assist in rescue efforts. But there is still so much more we can do. Let’s work together and demand greater action. Together we will strive to #BringBackOurGirls ”
Show your support and spread the word. Let’s do everything in our might to bring these beautiful young girls home #girlrising
As I’ve mentioned before I have always been a pink girl. My mom, in an effort to ensure that my sister and I have our own identities (and as a tool for other people to tell us apart haha), dressed me in pink and Kate in blue…not gonna lie it was pretty friggen adorable 🙂 Since then pink has just stuck with me. It’s by no means my “signature” color or am I obsessed with the hue, but I love to rock it when I can and feel really amazing when I actually do. Last Saturday night for our Spring Gala I wore this amazebalz dress from Dreamgirls Boutique and was so happy. I felt confident, self assured, and beautiful…there’s really nothing quite like feeling pretty in pink 😉
Here are a handful of some really great pink looks:
And so ladies why not,
I am today 😉