By Kelline Linton, Chief Copy Editor
Never ask a woman her weight. I heard this saying so many times in my life that I believed the mindset behind it. Women struggle with body image; how can we not? We see the idealized version of women on the television, Internet and our favorite magazines. We see fans flock to Hollywood actresses who weigh about 100 pounds each. And we see the entertainment media, like tabloids, constantly ridiculing famous women who gain unflattering weight.
Self image and awareness of one’s own body is a daily obstacle for a majority of underweight, overweight and normal weight women on this campus.
In the March 4 issue of the Optimist, Cara Flanders, therapist in the University Counseling Center, said she sees a fair share of ACU students who struggle with eating disorders and appearance. In the same month, Flanders coordinated a workshop on campus that addressed issues such as exercise, healthy eating, eating disorders and body image.
This workshop was for us, the women who look in the mirror and see our tan, thin peers and find ourselves making a comparison. Or at least it was for me for my first three years at ACU.
Instead of the “freshman fifteen,” I gained the “freshman thirty.” My body ballooned, and as I grew, my confidence shrunk. The next three years I “extreme” dieted, eating salad for lunch and dinner and exercising for almost an hour a day. After three or four months, I would reach my ideal weight and then quit, having burned out. Although I ate healthy and still exercised periodically, I again would gain 15-30 pounds and feel forced to begin the whole process once more.
Even as my body grew and shrunk, my self-esteem remained nonexistent because I mainly concerned myself with how I looked. While I worried about the outside, my inside gathered dust.
This year, my senior year, I changed.
As most seniors approach graduation, their thinking changes from when they were freshmen. They focus on finishing school, planning for the future and moving on to the adult world. In my case, I am choosing law schools, finding housing for the summer and searching for work in a tight job market. I am volunteering, copy editing, writing papers, taking tests, reading books and making amazing friends. I am growing, not physically, but mentally and spiritually.
And while my friends tell me I am skinny, the Wii Fit says I am an obese, 36-year-old woman. So, I guess I must be somewhere in between. But the truth is: I don’t care.
Because this self-image is not the one I see in the mirror every day as I comb my hair, slide Chap Stick onto my lips and slip on my favorite shoes. I see what every woman should see – a gorgeous, confident person full of energy and personality, someone who can tackle anything through self-confidence that is built by relying on God’s will and not one’s own.
ACU is a beautiful fruit salad with pears, apples and bananas. Of course, it also has the occasional celery stick. I myself am a cross between an apple and a pear – I’m a pepple. I love my pepple shape. It is unique and lovely, as is every woman’s body on this campus.
So my fellow female students, do not waste time worrying about how you look or how much you weigh. God did not design us all to be celery sticks, and that is wonderful because he still is enthralled with our beauty. For we all are beautiful and wonderfully made.
So feel free to ask me my weight, and I will tell you: 146 pounds and loving myself.