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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian


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One of the jarring things for me upon coming to Carleton last year was the realization that the vast majority of my new friends suffered from anxiety or depression at one point or another. Many of them had had a condition that required them to seek medical attention or counseling. A lot of the time, these mental health conditions were connected to poor body image. I remember sharing my concerns about this with a friend who goes to a university in a neighboring state. She was not surprised and told me that she had heard this was a problem at a lot of schools with high-pressure academic environments like Carleton.

I have a fairly uncomplicated relationship with my body. Sure, I have insecurities just like everyone else, but I’ve never had an eating disorder and I don’t spend much time thinking about how my skin could be better or my breasts are too small, even though I know these things to be what someone would notice about me if they were to scrutinize me under conventional standards of beauty. I eat when I’m hungry, I sleep when I’m tired (or try to, anyway) and I wear what is comfortable and aesthetically pleasing to me.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I can’t say why exactly this is the case. Perhaps it had something to do with my parents praising me for things I actually had some control over growing up, like my performance in school, as opposed to my appearance. Perhaps I’m just sort of oblivious to the media trap that has everyone thinking they’re too fat or too average, too this or too that. Perhaps I just happen to have a healthy balance of chemicals in my central nervous system.

Why am I sharing this? I think it’s important to recognize that whatever your relationship is to your body, you’re not alone. If you’re like me and have very few preoccupations on that front, that’s great. If not, it’s important to reach out to someone who can help. Whatever the state of your body image, there are lots of body-positive beacons in the media today to seek out. In particular, I would like to recommend Lena Dunham’s new memoir Not That Kind of Girl. I’d also like to praise the forthcoming Carleton publication “Skin Deep” for promoting a body-positive message. I’m not sure that I could ever pose nude, but I applaud those who are giving it a shot. Love your body, Carls.

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