The Myth of the Freshman 15

September 4, 2012 § Leave a comment are if you are a college-aged woman you’ve heard of the phrase “the Freshman 15,”  a framework that’s sole purpose is to make young women feel bad about their bodies and has lasting effects on their self-esteem. College student, Rachel Grate, has written a great response to the media hype that has created, and continues to perpetuate, fear of the Freshman 15. She writes:

The “Freshman Fifteen.” Friends had joked about the weight gain, but I had never seriously worried about the weight gain until being bombarded with articles that referred to it as inevitable, “dreaded,” something you must “fight”, “fear” and “beat.” I mentally mapped out my battle plan, with circles over the gym and the dining hall’s salad bar.

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t follow the prescribed diet once arriving at school. Instead, I fell into my old routine: running every other day and enjoying the fresh-baked cookies at dinner. Yet, surprisingly, I finished the year the exact same weight as I started it, as did most of my friends. So I decided to do some research, and found out that this result wasn’t far from the norm. The average college freshman gains a healthy 2.5-3.5 pounds for normal body development.

After researching and discovering that the Freshman 15 is a myth, Grate wanted to know where it came from. And, would you have guessed, Seventeen magazine? Yep, it first appeared in Seventeen in 1989.  In fact, about a year ago, Jezebel did a post on this very topic, writing, “Researchers have proven that most college students don’t gain the “Freshmen 15” — and that Seventeen is not your cool older sister. The magazine is more like the obnoxious older sister who declares “a moment on the lips, forever on the hips!” while you’re trying to enjoy a doughnut in peace.” Ugh, seriously.

If you’ve got the time, definitely head on over to the Miss Representation blog and check out the rest of Grate’s piece. Her analysis is smart and approachable, and points the finger back at an industry that gains so much from making young women feel so small.

On a resources note, for Georgia Tech students,  if you need advice about nutrition, losing or gaining weight, or eating healthy on the meal plan, you can meet with a dietician for $5 through Health Promotion at Stamps Health Services.

h/t to Lesley Bonds for sharing the link to Rachel Grate’s article!



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