A student at Colorado College wrote a piece claiming that the school’s commitment to a healthy lifestyle is actually a bad thing — because it’s body-shaming people, particularly men.
“Several aspects of the CC community such as numerous healthy eating habits, gym programs, and outdoor activities, foster a culture of body shaming even for male students,” Jade Pearl Frost, a senior who is a double major in feminist and gender studies and English, writes in a piece for the Feminist Wire.
First of all, she’s correct that “healthy eating habits, gym programs, and outdoor activities” are most certainly not “detrimental.” They are, in fact, this thing called “good.” It’s good that her school cafeteria has “an abundance of” healthy food options and “a renovated fitness center.” What would she rather have, a cafeteria that serves only bologna and cheese sandwiches on white bread and a dirty garbage gym with a bunch of broken machines, just so overweight kids wouldn’t feel bad about themselves?
Her attitude in this piece is one that has become all-too common — one that focuses on victimization rather than empowerment. The right attitude would be to say that it’s great that those students who are out of shape have so many campus resources to help them change that if they wanted to.
If your biggest problem is that your school is offering too many ski trips, then you are probably doing just fine.
First of all, I’d argue that her observation that more women use the cardio section and more men use weight room is probably due to the fact that women just generally are more interested in cardio, and men just generally are more interested in weight-training. In any case, calling it “exclusionary” when, as she herself admits, “the fitness center is open to all genders and everyone a part of the CC community” is factually incorrect. What is the school supposed to do? Force female students to get buff as hell when they don’t want to? Force dudes to get drop their weights and hop on a stationary bike?
In her discussion of fitness-masculinity issues, she also laments the fact that “if the male student doesn’t participate in outdoor activities such as Winterfest and BreakOut Trips, then they are seen as not having body management.” Personally, I’d say that if your biggest problem is that your school is offering too many ski trips, then you are probably doing just fine.
Other than ski trips, another program that Frost sees as problematic is the “Tigers Don’t Waste” program, which discourages students from wasting food.
“I remember when it first started, there was a lean male student sitting in a chair where students were scraping their plates and putting them back in the kitchen,” she writes. “The man would check each student’s plate and give them a sticker if they had no food waste and would give a not-so-gentle reminder to those who still had food on their plate.”
To be fair, I’d say that this program does sound kind of totalitarian. But body-shaming? How is encouraging you not to throw away your food body-shaming? After all, it’s not like the program is saying “Don’t waste food by eating too much food!” it’s just saying “Do not waste your food by throwing it away.”
In addition to all of her issues with campus programs, Frost also complains that the campus is “crawling with future male models for Patagonia, REI, and North Face,” and that this abundance of hot men makes the less hot men feel bad about themselves.
“I noticed how there were a lot of students, especially men, who were extremely fit,” Frost writes. “This became even more apparent when another freshman, who later became my best friend, stepped onto campus.”I’m not sure exactly what Frost would do about this problem. Perhaps some kind of fat-firmative action? Start denying admission to hot students because too many hot students had already been admitted? Or, perhaps, let those hot students in . . . but only on the condition that they promise to get fat within their first semester.
Frost complains that she routinely experiences “emotional injury” on campus due to her “lack of body privilege.” No doubt, feeling bad about yourself is awful, and we should always sympathize with those who are struggling and try to lift each other up. But hinting that your school should take away things that are objectively good just so you can feel better about yourself is ridiculous and unfair. The fact is, the world doesn’t work that way . . . and no one should want it to, either.