On Wednesday, Dec. 21st, 2016, I ripped my pants. My heart broke when I realized that my favorite pair of jeans, the jeans I bought with the money I earned from my first job, the jeans I wore on my first date and the ones I wore when I had my first kiss, the jeans that I wore to Europe and to my first college party, did not fit me anymore.
I was disgusted at myself that the force of my seemingly ever-expanding body tore apart almost five years of memories. My younger self’s hopes, dreams, laughter and miles of adventures were just frayed and ripped to shreds. I decided right then that I was going to lose all the weight and return to my former glory.
In that moment, I truly believed, if even for a second, that losing weight would make me better, more desirable and someone worth being proud of. For me, 2017 would be a year of reinvention, where I would sculpt and starve my body into a state of divinity. That, I thought, would make me happy.
2017, for many, serves as a beacon of hope. Whether it was a bad semester, a bad breakup or the death of one’s favorite actress or musician, 2016 seems to have left a wake of bitterness and despair, making everyone that much more motivated to get 2017 right. However, our thinking about the approach to “getting 2017 right” seems to be getting increasingly problematic.
A lot of the changes we are seeking are purely cosmetic, such as losing weight, with the implication that it will somehow change who we are as people (and making us better and happier). Well, newsflash. Happiness, self-actualization, and success do not come in a size two, six, 16 or 32.
I hope that, going into 2017, my friends, family and readers feel supported and comfortable as the person they are with the body they currently have. I am no stranger to feeling out of place or inadequate as far as my body is concerned, but we live in a society that literally profits off of insecurities. The new year and the new year’s resolutions offer opportunities for everyone to be the best version of themselves, not a chance to trash the old. Part of growing up and coming into one’s own is the acceptance of flaws, the ability to love and accept what it is we have now and the strength to carry on into each new year. Fad diets, 30 day workouts and corset training do not offer the path to self actualization or acceptance, but rather a distraction and an outlet for us to invest into what we hate most about ourselves.
I am not the type to preach that body positivity is a cure-all. It is a constant battle that I fight, but my body is something worth fighting for. Maybe I should drink more water or go to the gym more, but for the sake of my heart and my health, not my jeans. I am a person worthy of love and admiration, just as I am. The scale doesn’t reflect the 4.0 I worked so hard for last semester, or how I make my friends laugh, or determine my success as an English teacher.
My life’s purpose is not to lose weight, and neither is yours. I will always support those who wish to better themselves, but it is time to change the dialogue from fat-shaming and self hatred to that of body positivity and doing what is good for our bodies. We should take pride in our bodies, who we are, and take good care of ourselves. After all, we are people worth taking care of.
Abby Carlin is a sophomore English language arts major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]