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A call to action

Carolyn Bates and Suzy Fanuele | Monday, September 24, 2012

It’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week on our campus. Let’s talk about body image. As Notre Dame students, we are perfectionists. As perfectionists, we notice imperfections and are critical of them. We are constantly critiquing ourselves and others, and this mentality sets all of us up for discontentment as we strive to attain an unattainable standard.

You may be thinking, “Wait a minute. Aren’t these authors just another two perfectionists pointing out an imperfection in our environment?” Maybe so. But this is not simply a critique. It is a call to action.

We want to end our self-maintained social norm of constantly criticizing ourselves. Hating on our bodies should not be an acceptable form of socializing. But how often do you and your friends complain to each other about your diet slip in the dining hall, or the fact that you had to stop and walk during your run, or that (gasp!) you missed a workout entirely?

Why are we never satisfied with our current state of being? Guys are always working to get bigger, while girls will seemingly do anything to become smaller to fit into their skinny jeans. But we are so much more than a number on a scale, bench press, or waistband. Think of all of the great things we have done and will do with our lives. How many wonderful thoughts could occupy our minds if only we all could let go of our body image obsession?

This week, we challenge you to change our student body image, one body at a time. Start with yourself, and then encourage others. When you have a negative thought, recognize it and combat it with a positive one. Take a moment to compliment a friend on something other than his “huge muscles” or her “tiny waist.” Let them know that your friendship and their self-worth go beyond superficial cultural ideals.

It is good to hold ourselves to high standards, but we need to make sure those standards are conducive to living complete, positive and healthy lives. We are capable of greatness at any shape or size. Let’s work to acknowledge that in ourselves and others. Take the challenge to change our student body image. Together we could have an amazing positive impact on the culture at Notre Dame.

Carolyn Bates