I just read about casting for a new MTV reality show tentatively called Freshman 15. On the show fifteen students who are still in school will compete to shed the extra weight they’ve put on since they’ve been in college. I sort of have mixed feelings about this—obviously getting back in shape and learning how to eat right while living on a college campus is important, however, I think the pressures of college can become too much! Students have too much to focus on—classes, exams, internships, job searching, and making new friends—that trying to lose more weight than someone else could bring them to a breaking point. As I mentioned before though, my friends at school were my saving grace to get me back in the gym and in better shape, and if it wasn’t for tagging along with my roommates I could be overweight today. However, some girls can take this too far and turn losing weight into a dangerous contest triggering eating disorders.
When I was in college my first article for the newspaper was actually on this topic. Throughout my research, I discovered one of the clubs at my school had ulterior motives: the girls were secretly comparing dieting tips and starvation strategies in order to lose weight. The leaders of the club (of an all-girls singing group) developed a “mean girls” complex and often ostracized any new girls who didn’t appear to be thin enough. It’s so surprising to hear that stuff like this still goes on even when you’re an adult. However, in college, the pressures of being away from home for the first time and living in a new environment with so many people can cause new insecurities—and it’s easy to equate beauty and success in terms of thinness when you look around a big campus. Although I’m a huge fan of weight-loss shows like The Biggest Loser and Shape’s online Fat-to-Fab program, I’m not sure a show called the Freshman 15 will be a good idea to those people watching it (without the nutritionists and trainers personally on hand). I’ll think positively, and hopefully it sends the right message about eating a balanced diet and working out regularly.