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Who wants to talk about body issues?

Recently, my darling Heath has been begging me, along with many other members of the class of 2013, to contribute to the Forum‘s Letters to Home series.  But as much as I’m sure that “Letters to Home: How I Fell Off a Swing By Myself and Split My Head Open in Chile” would be an instant classic, I’m saving it for my memoir.

So here’s the back up plan: write about fat girls.

Like it or not, we’re all thinking about it – the prospect of going abroad with that cute little California beach body and coming back only to have been transformed into a whale hanging out at Scripps pool.  I might weigh 135 pounds, but that’s only 60 kilograms, so that means I’m actually skinnier in South America, right?  That’s a thing.

Let’s start from the beginning.  Before I’d even booked my plane ticket for my big Southern hemisphere adventure, I knew what was up.  My friends warned me about it all summer, teasing me endlessly.  “All the girls that go to South America get fat,” they reminded me.

One put it a little more tenderly, providing some charming advice: “Mimbs, don’t f#@king get fat down there.”

Easier said than done.  When you’re in a world of new, good habits are hard to maintain.  You’re only abroad once is frequently our rallying cry, our excuse to tear into anything and everything put in front of us.  It isn’t healthy, but who knows.  Maybe it is our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have Dulce de Leche and Coconut flavored ice-cream.  And, yes, I could probably find that back in the States, thanks to globalization and what not, but shush.  Don’t tell me that.  Let me savor this mouthful of wonderfulness like Argentina and I are going to break up – and this is my last opportunity to savor our rich, rich relationship.   Besides, I haven’t had a real waffle cone since, like, 1998.

My tortured existence on this deserted continent of fine wine and Latin lovers now consists of two ever hounding thoughts: “when is my next meal coming” and “I should really be more careful at my next meal not to get fat.”  The pendulum unpredictably, and unproductively, swings between the two.   Thinking about it is not helping anything, but taking the time to stay in shape isn’t easy.  Going for a run is difficult – especially when there are modern art museums to see and chocolate chunk lattes to try.

I don’t think I’m alone in this experience. After Skyping with friends studying in many parts of the world, I’ve reached one final conclusion – more likely than not, I’m not the only one going crazy over food while abroad.

Rather, we’re each asking questions: is my on-campus boyfriend still going to love me when I come back from Europe looking like I just ate a Frenchman?   Are the new freshman going to be hotter than me?  And how the hell am I going to fit into all my American Apparel body suits for theme parties in the spring? By the way, screw the lingerie party.

More then once on this trip, I’ve found myself quoting Mary Scmich’s “Wear Sunscreen” essay.  The essay, packed with fitting life advice, was adapted to music video in 1999 by Baz Luhrmann, and features one increasingly relevant line: “You are not as fat as you imagine.”  Dreamy and idealistic, but also not so far from the truth.  While there’s less research on weight gain of college students during their junior year, one recent study showed that the “Freshman 15” isn’t actually a real thing.  It is nothing but a panic-inciting, salad-diet-inducing myth: the average student only gains about 3 pounds their first year in college.  At the end of the day, it’s more in our heads than we realize.

I could feed you some sort of cookie-cutter “cherish the moment” advice, but you’ve had enough cookies already, girlfriend.  Let’s just put it this way – there’s something more important to study abroad than counting calories.  As one CMC alum sagely advised me –  “If you are going abroad, eat, drink and party like they do. Weight is something that can be lost, but experiences can’t.”

So breathe, you’re still a hottie.  And if you put on some weight, it’s not the end of the world.  There’s always Jessica Mao’s killer kick boxing class in the spring to get you back into shape.

Besides, Pirate Party’s not till May. Ya got time.

Food images courtesy of Elizabeth Petit ’13, currently studying abroad in Sydney, Australia.  Photos were taken during a trip to New Zealand. 

 

55 COMMENTS

  1. Caroline,

    While I understand you were probably trying to be funny with this article, it is offensive not only to cmc girls studying abroad (a group I am a part of) but to women in general. I am not usually one to push some feminist agenda but this actually went to far. If the biggest issue CMC women are encountering around the world right now is not fitting into American Apparel, we need to take a step back and ask ourselves why we are studying abroad in the first place.

    Not only is this article furthering body shaming in a really unhealthy way, it is furthering a stereotype of women that does a lot more harm than good. I do not want to be thought of as someone having worried video chats with my friends around the world this semester about whether i need to stop eating the delicious food from my host country.

    The response to this will probably be “its satyrical” or something like that but in the end you are putting on the statement that all the cmc girls studying abroad are really worried about getting fat! You should have considered that not only is this wildly untrue, but it could also hit a chord with people who have weight issues, girls who don’t want to be thought of as weight obsessed and boy crazy ( is my on-campus boyfriend still going to love me when I come back from Europe looking like I just ate a Frenchman?), and the other girls who are studying abroad from CMC who are now under the umbrella of your article. 

    CMC girls pride themselves on being above these sorts of negative stereotypes. We do not want to be seen as ditzy girls asking each other if our outfits make us look fat. 

    • Well said, I thought that the point of going abroad is to get out of the bubble, learn about other cultures, and challenge your values and what you thought was important. Obsessing about your weight and what other people think of you defies the whole point. This is the sort of thing that gives women eating disorders.

    • 1.) I think you meant “went “too” far”.
      2.) Would it be an oxymoron to further body(-)shaming in a healthy way?
      3.) It’s satirical, not “its sayrical”
      4.) “Is/is my on-campus boyfriend…”
      5.) “We” is used as a pronoun apparently including all CMC girls…Don’t speak for everyone in your final paragraph, please.

    • um.  everyone should be worried about getting fat, fat girls suck. stay conscious, and stay hot.  

        • Obviously, you have never had the honey chevre from Trader Joe’s. Or vegetarian gumbo. Or fresh-baked cookies from Scripps. Or french onion soup. I can go on, really. Food is just that good.

          Having been both a skinny girl and a normal girl in my lifetime, I can say for certain that feeling thin is not a good feeling–it’s an impossible feeling. Even when you’re a size 0 eating rabbit food for all meals, you’re never sure that you’re actually thin, no matter what anyone says. If you don’t naturally come by a thin body, forcing yourself to be that way becomes so obsessive and consuming that any enjoyment you might get from maintaining a goal weight is lost. So ladies: ignore these jerks and eat what you want while staying active and following doctor’s orders. You’ll be fine.

    • This comment is a prayer to the politically-correctness goddess – or is it god? Either way the comment is less instructive than it is amusing.

  2. Caroline,

    While I understand you were probably trying to be funny with this article, it is offensive not only to cmc girls studying abroad (a group I am a part of) but to women in general. I am not usually one to push some feminist agenda but this actually went to far. If the biggest issue CMC women are encountering around the world right now is not fitting into American Apparel, we need to take a step back and ask ourselves why we are studying abroad in the first place.

    Not only is this article furthering body shaming in a really unhealthy way, it is furthering a stereotype of women that does a lot more harm than good. I do not want to be thought of as someone having worried video chats with my friends around the world this semester about whether i need to stop eating the delicious food from my host country.

    The response to this will probably be “its satyrical” or something like that but in the end you are putting on the statement that all the cmc girls studying abroad are really worried about getting fat! You should have considered that not only is this wildly untrue, but it could also hit a chord with people who have weight issues, girls who don’t want to be thought of as weight obsessed and boy crazy ( is my on-campus boyfriend still going to love me when I come back from Europe looking like I just ate a Frenchman?), and the other girls who are studying abroad from CMC who are now under the umbrella of your article. 

    CMC girls pride themselves on being above these sorts of negative stereotypes. We do not want to be seen as ditzy girls asking each other if our outfits make us look fat. 

  3. I think this article could deter a lot of people who are healthy about their weight and with body image issues from coming to this school. I don’t think I’d want to go to a school where people obsess about things like “The prospect of going abroad with that cute little California beach body and coming back only to have been transformed into a whale hanging out at Scripps pool” or  where your friends say things like “All the girls that go to South America get fat” and “don’t f#@king get fat down there.” But, I already do. I think this reflects poorly on CMC’s culture, but as a CMCer I’m happy to know that there’s a lot of people here who don’t think like this.

    • “I think this article could deter a lot of people…”  Wow, I had no idea that she had such power!  IMO if that article COULD deter someone from attending CMC, they don’t belong there anyway.

      • Articles taken as a whole (along with comments, perhaps) can be pretty indicative of the culture of a place. Some prospies do their research.

      • Articles taken as a whole (along with comments, perhaps) can be pretty indicative of the culture of a place. Some prospies do their research.

  4. Technically, this piece is incredibly well-written and punchy. The author is clearly a talented writer with the capabilities of writing incredible pieces. The subject matter and the tone, however, I find grossly offensive and out-of-place.  The author has claimed to speak for other “friends studying abroad,” who I have a hunch might be really appalled if they knew they were being judged and then spoken-for on CMC’s most read news site.  I get it: it’s fun to make fun of ourselves, laugh off self-conscious feelings (especially in front of others, so everyone knows how “confident” we are).  But it’s making CMCers abroad look narcissistic and superficial.  I wonder how someone like Kristen Mallory or the other ladies at OCS would feel if they read this piece.  Probably pretty damn disappointed this is what we’d be writing home about.

    • Honestly, if you knew Caroline i’m sure you’d understand a lot more where she’s coming from with this piece. She is neither trying to force eating disorders on women nor is she trying to criticize cmc (a place that she absolutely adores by the way and would never want to tarnish the reputation of). This piece to me (also a woman studying abroad) was meant to be a funny way to look at some of the reactions of being abroad. Caroline is not promoting people to go abroad and only concentrate on what you look like, that is completely absurd. And the fact is, sadly, that a lot of the students at cmc (and the 5C’s in general) are  superficial and do take this stuff seriously, but this article is not meant promote that or highlight it. Superficiality happens at whatever school you go to no matter where it is in the world, this is just a fact. Caroline is clearly not judging her friends studying abroad either about their comments on weight and I’m sure they would not mind being included in this article. I think that we should be less sensitive about this article because I don’t believe it was meant to be taken this harshly at all. In reality, girls often do concentrate on the weight issue. However, this is not the entire focus of anyone’s abroad experience. Caroline chose one single topic to write on and put her creative and witty spin on it, which if you have ready any of her other articles you would see that this is her forte.

    • Honestly, if you knew Caroline i’m sure you’d understand a lot more where she’s coming from with this piece. She is neither trying to force eating disorders on women nor is she trying to criticize cmc (a place that she absolutely adores by the way and would never want to tarnish the reputation of). This piece to me (also a woman studying abroad) was meant to be a funny way to look at some of the reactions of being abroad. Caroline is not promoting people to go abroad and only concentrate on what you look like, that is completely absurd. And the fact is, sadly, that a lot of the students at cmc (and the 5C’s in general) are  superficial and do take this stuff seriously, but this article is not meant promote that or highlight it. Superficiality happens at whatever school you go to no matter where it is in the world, this is just a fact. Caroline is clearly not judging her friends studying abroad either about their comments on weight and I’m sure they would not mind being included in this article. I think that we should be less sensitive about this article because I don’t believe it was meant to be taken this harshly at all. In reality, girls often do concentrate on the weight issue. However, this is not the entire focus of anyone’s abroad experience. Caroline chose one single topic to write on and put her creative and witty spin on it, which if you have ready any of her other articles you would see that this is her forte.

      • you are making the assumption that we do not know mimbs. i am fully aware of her intentions with this piece but that does not make it appropriate to be a part of our school newspaper (something that prospective students and parents are definitely looking at)

        • then i’m sure you’d find many pieces on the forum equally offensive, not just this. if we write about any of our parties or other such wild and crazy things we get up to at cmc, do we want prospective students or parents looking at that? why don’t we just take down the forum then if you feel that way. oh wait, that’s ridiculous. The forum is “a medium for exchange of ideas” that is what’s happening. I respect your opinion about the piece as much as I disagree with it but it doesnt mean that it shouldn’t be a part of our school newspaper

  5. God forbid Caroline provoked thoughts of weight-conciousness and healthy eating…even worse, working out. If the 20 minutes spent formulating paragraph-long responses to this article were utilized on the treadmill, I bet no one would feel the need to use this space to proj.ect their low self-esteem issues! Way to take this wayyyy out of context Eating Abroad and respect yourself.

  6. Christ almighty most of you guys need to figure it out. This point of this article is the celebration of food while studying abroad. I don’t know why that’s difficult for so many of you to comprehend, but if you are adept enough to read past the title, I’m not sure why you’re so pissed off. The “all the girls get fat” was simply an angle used to draw the reader in, and it was effective in that capacity. You must have missed the line, “As one CMC alum sagely advised me — “If you are going abroad, eat, drink and they party like they do.” She’s not advising that anyone forego the pleasures of imbibing in international cuisine to stay/become skinny. In fact, quite the opposite. And if you believe that weight-gain isn’t an issue on the minds of many, both males and females, both home and abroad, then I envy your idealism but I simply think you’re wrong. If any of you can’t handle this article, there are already issues in place that neither the author nor the forum caused. And for those of you who concerned that the opinions of Ms. Nyce will reflect poorly on yourselves, my personal opinion is that you should be happy to be associate with Caroline at all.

    I really encourage you to try to understand an article before saddling your high-horsies

  7. Next time any Professor needs an example of selection bias, please someone give the comment section of the Forum as an example. It seems every well-written and witty article is treated as a scandalous piece of controversy. Get. Over. Yourselves. 

    Or better yet, transfer to Pomona.Caroline Nyce is easily one of the most confident, self-assured women on the 5C’s, let alone the Claremont McKenna. Her article neither supports “furthering body shaming in a really unhealthy way,” nor does it “[further] a stereotype of women that does a lot more harm than good”. It is in large regard a piece which pokes fun at these stereotypes. In reality, however, Caroline’s article has nothing to do with anything as edgy as body image issues. It is simply a witty commentary on a reality faced both BOTH men and women who go abroad: The food is awesome, The parties are frequent, and it is difficult to find time to work out! Her article doesn’t pressure girls studying abroad to hit up the closest LA Fitness, instead she says “breathe, you’re still a hottie.  And if you put on some weight, it’s not the end of the world.” All of you trolls hating on Caroline are wasting your time. Stop trying to rile up a controversy where there isn’t one. Both Caroline’s personal track record and the actual words of this article evidence that her intention was, at most, supporting women letting go of unhealthy ideas about body image. At the least, her article was filled with Sharp humor, incredibly well written and provided the Forum a well-deserved break from articles about Monte Carlo and the Robert Day School of Economics. Here’s to you Caroline. Can’t wait to have you back on campus, regardless of if you are a few tapas heavier. 

  8. hahah all of the people saying this article is bad are obviously fat girls with no boyfriends. 

  9. Seriously, all of you self righteous people need to get over yourselves…..This is an extremely well-written and funny article that ultimately encourages students abroad to enjoy their experiences (including meal time) while out of “their bubble”. Weight is something that can always be lost as long as one is willing to do the work. In my experiences, I have found that those who yell the loudest about body issues and weight are the ones who shop at dress barn in the plus sizes.

    Learn to take things with a grain of salt (or a pat of butter) and enjoy a little bit of humor….

    Finally….Mimbsy is a strong, opinionated and beautiful young woman that CMC should be honored to have as a student. I certainly hope that one day I have a Mimbs JUST like her!…..by the way,she totally rocks that American Apparel bodysuit…. 

    • “In my experiences, I have found that those who yell the loudest about
      body issues and weight are the ones who shop at dress barn in the plus
      sizes.”….Are you serious?  What a disgustingly biased, judgmental comment.  I know you’re standing up for your friend, but that just nixed your entire point about “enjoying mealtime.”  Soooo “enjoy mealtime as long as you’re skinny.”  Got it. 

  10. Me. I want to talk about body issues. In a positive way.
    That won’t inspire eating disorders.

     

    I also want to talk about the DELICIOUS food that you get to
    eat while you’re abroad. The different dishes that are unique to a region. What
    makes them so tasty. Let’s talk about that over skype.

     

    Or maybe the variety of reasons people study abroad: to
    challenge themselves, discover a new culture, gain a unique perspective on
    American society, learn about history at its birthplace, make new friends, etc.
    etc. etc.

     

    Let’s talk about WHY girls feel like they need to “lose
    those few pounds” once they’re back in the States. Because of unrealistic
    images projected by the media.

     

    OR why in some countries it actually is more attractively to
    have all those womanly curves. Can we make that a thing?

     

    I think this article is a good example of why America needs
    to focus on changing what images it projects of the “ideal” woman and why girls
    and women feel the constant need to fit into it (and that American Apparel
    spandex).

     

    I’m not saying I don’t worry about keeping myself slender
    and healthy – I do – but I WISH I was only worrying about the healthy and could
    let go of the slender.

     

    I understand this article was witty, well-written, but good
    writing be damned if it reinforces negative stereotypes and encourages
    unhealthy eating habits (which unfortunately this article may, unintentionally,
    do).

     

    Finally, I appreciate having the Forum as a space to voice
    our opinions and inspire a HEALTHY dialogue about real issues that affect us
    every day.

     

     

     

    • did you honestly expect caroline to be able to fix all the world’s body issues with this article? it’s realistic about it.

      • thankfully, we do have this space to talk about it as you said. the previous comment was more an addition to yours

    • Why did you put like 15 spaces between each one of your pretentious, “I statement” paragraphs…

  11. meh, i’m not offended – it’s clearly supposed to be funny. she just doesn’t write very well.

  12. Congratulations, Caroline. You have officially taken the issue of body image–which many women spend their entire lives struggling with–and made light of it in the most offensive, inconsiderate manner possible.  Yes, your writing is “punchy.” However, I, for one, had come to expect more from a fellow intelligent CMC woman than buying so easily into society’s harsh beauty standards. I am proud to attend a school where the student body spends more time thinking about the world than a number on a scale, or so I thought. This piece paints CMC women–and only women–as a bunch of sun-kissed, calorie-counting bimbos.  Maybe if the title were “Everyone Gets Fat in South America,” and you so much as mentioned men’s experiences with weight gain while abroad, I could begin to take this seriously. As is, I have to believe that if this were written by a man, everyone would be up in arms about how “sexist” it is.  Just because you are female does not give you the right to degrade women’s bodies–and minds–in this way.  Some of us have spent our time off campus thinking about more than our appearances.It goes without saying that women (and men) experience a great deal of pressure to conform to certain physical standards perpetuated by the media. Your distinction between some girls rocking “cute little California beach bodies” and other “whales hanging out at Scripps pool” serves no purpose but to prove how pervasive these beauty standards really are. I’m not sure whether this article was meant to be satirical, but it certainly comes off as insincere. When you return to campus weighing 138 pounds, up from 135, a figure you felt the need to share with the entire Claremont community, I hope your flocks of adoring followers remind you that “you are not as fat as you imagine.”  Those of us who are truly confident won’t need to be reminded.

  13. Congratulations, Caroline. You have officially taken the issue of body image–which many women spend their entire lives struggling with–and made light of it in the most offensive, inconsiderate manner possible.  Yes, your writing is “punchy.” However, I, for one, had come to expect more from a fellow intelligent CMC woman than buying so easily into society’s harsh beauty standards. I am proud to attend a school where the student body spends more time thinking about the world than a number on a scale, or so I thought. This piece paints CMC women–and only women–as a bunch of sun-kissed, calorie-counting bimbos.  Maybe if the title were “Everyone Gets Fat in South America,” and you so much as mentioned men’s experiences with weight gain while abroad, I could begin to take this seriously. As is, I have to believe that if this were written by a man, everyone would be up in arms about how “sexist” it is.  Just because you are female does not give you the right to degrade women’s bodies–and minds–in this way.  Some of us have spent our time off campus thinking about more than our appearances.It goes without saying that women (and men) experience a great deal of pressure to conform to certain physical standards perpetuated by the media. Your distinction between some girls rocking “cute little California beach bodies” and other “whales hanging out at Scripps pool” serves no purpose but to prove how pervasive these beauty standards really are. I’m not sure whether this article was meant to be satirical, but it certainly comes off as insincere. When you return to campus weighing 138 pounds, up from 135, a figure you felt the need to share with the entire Claremont community, I hope your flocks of adoring followers remind you that “you are not as fat as you imagine.”  Those of us who are truly confident won’t need to be reminded.

    • Whether we like it or not, negative body image is something men and women inevitably deal with, both within our CMC community “where the student body spends more time thinking about the world than a number on a scale” and in society in general. Caroline is not trying to reinforce negative body issues with this article or put even greater pressure on females at Claremont. While being self-conscious about our appearance sometimes seems to be unavoidable with today’s societal pressures, she advises us to try and remember what’s important: taking advantage of new life experiences abroad instead of drowning in a pool of calorie-induced regret. Congrats to all those who are “truly confident” and don’t need to be reminded, but from my experience, it seems that everyone can be plagued with moments of insecurity, and by writing openly about a topic that so many people feel uncomfortable talking about, Caroline confronts an issue that many of us think about whether we like to admit it or not, and advises us to to try and overcome these issues.

    • Doesn’t her willingness to be open about her weight show confidence in herself and an embracing of her curves, or whatever

    • Doesn’t her willingness to be open about her weight show confidence in herself and an embracing of her curves, or whatever

  14. This article is appropriate because people DO worry about their weight. As one of the lovely troll-commentators pointed out, some people struggle with weight issues all their lives – if you have body image issues, you can’t go abroad and have those issues disappear. This article is talking about a specific experience that SOME women experience while abroad – Caroline never said all women have this problem, and she also never said it’s the most important part of being abroad. Let’s treat this article like what it really is – a funny, punny piece about a small facet of some people’s experiences. If we can’t point out when we are insecure, how can we ever have a productive conversation about beauty standards?

  15. The comments under Caroline’s article are not only ridiculous, but also in poor taste . Caroline, I think your article is witty and brings a comical twist on the amount of bread and dulce de leche that American students eat in South America. You would think that we have never seen a bread roll before based on the amount that we eat. Can’t wait to read your next article!

    P.S. “You are only abroad once” is totally my line

    besos!

  16. I lol’d. Another funny article, Mimbsy. Come back to DC already!
    I packed on some pounds (kilos?) in Brazil… It’s cause they put dulce de leche in ERR’THANG!!!
    Shit happens. I’ll still wear that American Apparel body suit to TNC…

  17. I’ll say it: I’m all about more cushion for the pushin’. Ladies, fatten up. Yo te quiero las fatties.  

  18. This is a pretty harmless and light-hearted article. Everyone chill out and go to Monte Carlo.

  19. Okay guys.  Stop making a commotion.  If you’re fat, then you suck, so don’t be fat.  It is that simple.  

  20. Hilarious considering that beauty standards and “fat” vs “thin” are different in other parts of the world and vary greatly in different parts of South America. So….I came back from S. America with a Brazilian ass after eating so much creme de leite, pao de queijo, etc. I was too thin, there. I’m “fat”, here? Whatever. My ass is still the bomb. So, I hope you come back happy with your weight and confident that even if you aren’t a typical prototype of what we’d expect some Claremont women to look like, be realistic about what’s healthy for you and what makes sense for how you feel about yourself. And to be really truthful, the super skinny girls who studied with me didn’t get any play…so girl, live it up!

  21. Fun article! I don’t think the author is telling anyone to be skinny, but rather, she’s telling them not to worry about it and value the experience instead. I hope that my study abroad experience is filled with great food and great experiences, but if I gain weight, I want to get back to my normal healthy self upon getting back to school! Good read for someone who actually is concerned about things like this past the superficial level. 

  22. Studying in Brazil currently. Going through this same problem. Delicious cakes, pao de queijo, oh and more cakes. Barely no exercise.  Thanks for the uplifting article. Made me feel better.

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