By Kaitlyn Williams
I sat down for the first class of the semester. I was ready to learn and prepare for a class of listening to the syllabus. After a rough previous semester with my mental health, I was ready to start anew with a fresh positive look. Then the professor called my name and accompanied it with a “You have lost a lot of weight”. Immediately, my stomach sunk.
Despite how good the intentions of the professor may have been, the damage had been done. I felt a wave of anxiety surge through me, reminding me of all the things I hated about my body. Self-consciousness rose as I began to think about what my classmates made of the comment. Had they all been thinking that too? Did I look bad before? Was it that noticeable?
Without knowing it, this professor resurfaced years of anxieties that have grown with me. I have struggled with an eating disorder since I was 15 years old.
Eating disorders aren’t always something that you are able to see, and you never know who may or may not be suffering from one. At the time of the comment, I had been eating very little due to severe anxiety that squelched my appetite along with times of binging and purging.
The professor went on to call other names, but meanwhile, my discomfort kept growing throughout the class, and I struggled silently with an anxiety attack trying to understand why the prof thought that it was appropriate to say that to me in front of a class.
Making comments about someone’s weight is off-limits. This professor remains one of my favorites, but that does not change the fact that what she said was not acceptable and will never be acceptable – especially coming from a professor in a classroom that this college tries to make a safe space.
I remember the first time someone commented on my weight in high school. After losing a lot of weight, another girl in the hallway stopped me and told me I looked great and asked if I had lost weight. At the time I was flattered and satisfied that someone noticed that I had lost weight, but at the same time that encouraged my eating disorder to go even further. Complimenting some- one’s weight loss is something that you shouldn’t do as you don’t know what someone has been through.
In society, there is so much pressure to look a certain way. Media portrays the idea of an ideal body where you have to be thin — but not too thin — and curvy — but not too curvy. These are unrealistic standards that are constantly put on both men and women for their bodies. Media encourages eat- ing disorders through seeing the lives of social media stars and also constant photoshopped images appearing in your feed. I’ve seen it not only affect me but my friends. While scrolling through their Instagrams I’ll hear them say “she’s so pretty”, or “wow I wish I could have her body”. When I try to tell them that they look great the way they are they just refute it because they don’t look like this person that they deem the ideal.
I know that it is not realistic to believe that social media will change overnight, but I don’t think that it is ridiculous to hope that as a society we can take steps to change things for the better. If everyone is a little bit more mindful of what they say, the world could be a much more friendly place for everyone.