Why the “Freshman Fifteen” Doesn’t Actually Matter

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By: Mirjana Villeneuve

“I’ve gained the Freshman Fifteen already…” the girl living down the hall from me in first year residence said to me, her eyes lowered in shame.

“I can’t even tell,” I told her. But, silently, I was relieved that I wasn’t in her place.

In high school, I already knew about the Freshman Fifteen, and vowed not to gain it. In the spring and summer leading up to my first year of University, I vowed to lose weight so that even if I did gain the Freshman Fifteen, it wouldn’t matter

Then I got to University, and on the first day was already confronted with conversations on the topic. In the cafeteria, girls from my residence floor would discuss the ins and outs of their diets to make sure they weren’t gaining these damned fifteen pounds- or at the very least, not gaining it any faster than anyone else.

I was so scared of gaining weight- not just the Freshman Fifteen, but any weight at all.

And simultaneously telling my friends worrying about weight gain that “it’s okay, as long as you’re still eating and maintaining a balanced lifestyle!”

It wasn’t until much later that I realized the irony in this situation.

But as I entered recovery for anorexia that year, I asked myself- why does the Freshman Fifteen matter so much? Does it even matter at all? I didn’t know how it couldn’t matter at the time. But now, further along in recovery and entering my third year of University, I can see it.

The “Freshman Fifteen” is a term coined by a body-shamer. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not about to the let a body-shamer define my University experience. Worrying about weight gain incessantly prevents us from doing anything else that we could do in these amazing University years, such as:

– Forming new, authentic relationships

– Profiting from our classes

– Trying new activities

– Concentrating in lectures

– Enjoying social functions

– Enjoying anything, really

– Being present

– Being living human beings

– Literally being alive

University is the start of a new chapter of our lives and is supposed to be a time of growth, new experiences, and life-long friendships! The “Freshman Fifteen” doesn’t allow for any of that, as it forces our gaze inward, forces us inward, and locks us in fear.

So, the Freshman Fifteen is more work than it’s worth. Gaining weight is not the end of the world.

In the end, I did gain the Freshman Fifteen. And I have a new, brighter, fuller life to go along with it.

About the Author: When I’m not writing you can find me reading, drinking coffee, or hunting down the places with the most Instagram potential.

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