Body-Shaming at Hathaway Brown

By Leonela Serrano

In my four years at HB, I have been privileged to find myself in a space where girls offer support to other girls in all aspects of life but, I noticed our obsession with weight – something that I obsess about too. From my first day at HB, there have been constant jokes about how “fat” someone is because of their overabundance of eating junk-food coupled with the perfectionist tendencies that many of us hold ourselves up to.

I myself have taken part in this culture of weight-obsession. For my first two years of high school, I have seen friends buy Fitbits with the only goal of losing weight. I have gone to visit nutritionists, used calorie-counting apps, and restricted my eating to become skinner. I know that my body is not perfect: I am short, have love handles, and am not a size zero. Most of my friends have showed themselves to be unhappy with their bodies because they felt that they were too “fat” for society, despite only being a size six. They have thin bodies but have hips and thighs and carry some weight in their stomachs. They allow their bodies to be as they naturally are but the perfectionist culture at HB has taught them to hyper-focus on what isn’t right. They want to fix their bodies like how they want to fix an incorrect answer on a homework assignment.

As I walk down the halls at HB, I hear girls complain about the food brought into mentor group. They talk about how “fat” the bagels and donuts were that they ate. They follow every bite with a groan, as they speak about the need to lose weight. There is a constant culture of weight loss, of needing to better oneself to become thinner, because that is a solution to the “problem” of their weight. During freshman year, I was told to my face that I was fatass for wanting to buy a chocolate bar. I was informed by a friend that my food habits would only make me fatter. I am not the only one.

HB is a place where we are told to embrace and celebrate our true selves. We are encouraged to be different and unique. But the students seem to only take that idea so far. We are accepting of others’ individuality and passions. We applaud creativity and courage. Yet, we are constantly  judging ourselves for not fitting into this “ideal body” box. And, though no one would admit it, we can find ourselves judging our friends and classmates for grabbing that 3rd slice of pizza or that 2nd serving of dessert, too. We internally project this image of what we should look like, provided to us by society, onto ourselves and our neighbors, in a not-too-challenging game of “spot the differences.”

Girls here complain about their stick-thin bodies and then go on to buy a venti Starbucks because they want to appear “cool”. Being skinny, athletic, and thin is in. Working-out and dieting is in. We don’t say it but we all know that the ideal HB girl is skinny, smart, athletic. She’s superhuman and she’s perfect.