Colorado College Student Says That The School's Focus On Healthy Living Is "Body Privilege" And Shames Fat People

Screen Shot 2016-09-19 at 10.05.58 AM

Just a heads up, this is an incredibly long article. But it’s also the single stupidest article I have ever read in my entire life. So you can check out the whole thing here at the Feminist Wire or scroll below as I break it down paragraph by paragraph.

Before we start, consider this your Trigger Warning if you are a somewhat fit male who works out and lives a healthy lifestyle and takes pride in your appearance.

You are about to get torn to shreds.

Screen Shot 2016-09-19 at 9.17.36 AM

When I first stepped foot onto Colorado College’s campus as a freshman, I was amazed by the beautiful campus landscape, the friendly faces, and the buzzing activity going all around campus. I noticed how there were a lot of students, especially men, who were extremely fit. This became even more apparent when another freshman, who later became my best friend, stepped onto campus. Suddenly, there was a sharp contrast as he stood there with his stomach protruding from his shirt and out of breath from the elevation. He stood there taking it all in: The next four years, the landscape, and the other male students with their slight bulge of biceps, flat and sometimes rigid torsos, strong calves running effortlessly at 6,035 ft. of elevation. The campus was crawling with future male models for Patagonia, REI, and North Face. Colorado College (CC) prides itself in promoting a healthy lifestyle for its students.

Wow Colorado College sounds awesome. Lot of good looking, healthy people. Sounds like the perfect place for your fat bum of a friend to get in shape.

With a dining hall that gives students an abundance of food options for the vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free lovers, as well as a renovated fitness center that looks over Pikes Peak, and numerous clubs and organizations to get you moving, sweating, and in shape, how can a male student not be physically fit? And when they are not physically fit, it becomes clear that they do not physically belong. 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. While I am not suggesting that these aspects are detrimental in and of themselves, I argue that the College values these things in ways that are overwhelming and exclusionary. I focus on men because although the “CC Culture” is promoting a healthy lifestyle, it is also promoting body dissatisfaction, as well as making it difficult to navigate public spaces for the men on campus.

So let me get this straight. Colorado College has a dining hall that offers food options for every single type of preference – regular, vegan, vegetarian, and even gluten-free. They have a newly renovated fitness center to work out in. They have tons of clubs you can join to get in shape and have fun with your friends.

…And this stuff is bad because the people who don’t eat healthy or work out or utilize any of the facilities to improve your lifestyle feel excluded and body shamed.

The “Tigers Don’t Waste” program in one of the dining halls at CC is one example on how the culture subtly shames students based on their consumption. The program, which was started by students, encourages other students to watch what they put on their plate as a way to minimize food waste. 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. 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. The “Tigers Don’t Waste” student program is one way to praise students for hiding their food consumption, while scrutinizing others for showing that they have too much food consumption. If a man shows signs of consumption, then he is showing that he does not have control over his body. If he does not have control over his body, then how can he be masculine, if masculinity is about being in control? This loss of control of the body will lead to trying to regain control through going to the gym and engaging in outdoor activities.

Minimizing the amount of food just thrown in the garbage: a smart, socially conscious practice while there are children starving around the world? Nope – a direct challenge to masculinity.

While the fitness center is open to all genders and everyone a part of the CC community, there is an unspoken rule that the cardio section is for the feminine and the weight room is for the masculine. Men are to have as much of a muscular build as possible in order to exude masculinity. If a man is seen running on the treadmill or cycling, he is exuding his strength, but not as much as he would in the weight room. There he will not only be exuding his strength, but he will also add to it and build his muscular build with each bench press or leg curl. The weight room gives men a place to gain control over their body as well as a place to show their body privilege.

Is this just completely made up? Is there a single fucking guy in the world who is scared to run on the treadmill at the gym? I’m almost convinced the author of this is a time traveler from the 1960s or something, there is just no chance you can walk into a gym in America these days and not see men in the cardio section and women in the weights section. Not a single person gives a fuck.

Also there’s also a thing called “personal preference,” like most men prefer to try and get big and buff in the weight room while most women prefer to get less big and buff in the cardio section. Not all, but most. Unless you are proposing there be a Gym Dictator who forces segregation of the sexes into each gym section, do you mind if people do what makes them happy?

I know for me personally, that I experience emotional injury due to my lack of body privilege. And for the men on campus, going to the gym or the weight room is their way to attain their body privilege and avoid any injury to themselves. By them working out at the gym or participating in outdoor activities such as skiing, snowboarding, and backpacking, they have body consciousness about their body management.

I’m starting to understand “body privilege” a little better. I guess it means working out and training your body to avoid injury in the activities you do. Which is apparently a bad thing. I think the author’s perfect world is one where everybody limps around with torn hamstrings.

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. The people who participate in these events are mainly men and it is seen as an abnormality if you are a male and do not physically participate. If an “unfit” male were to go on these events, then they experience body consciousness due to their lack of physicality and have to compensate through body management. By having body management, the male student continues to foster the toxic CC Culture. Kwan’s study of body privilege, consciousness, and management is practiced on Colorado College’s campus when men try to participate in the “CC Culture,” and attain the body privilege.

If a male student doesn’t participate in outdoor activities they aren’t “seen as not having body management.” They are seen as a lazy college kid who wants to watch tv and play video games and drink and party like 98% of college students. Nobody except you is analyzing them to this extent.

Now bring it home for us with the conclusion!

The CC Culture fosters an environment that subtly and overtly shames students who aren’t deemed physically fit, through the “Tigers Don’t Waste” program and body privilege and management in the weight room and outdoor activities. Although these may be subtle ways to get students to be a part of the culture on campus, some schools are not so quiet about their expectations in students’ health. Bryn Mawr College had to apologize to their student body for sending out an email to all the students with high BMIs (body mass index) that gave tips and programs they can use to try to lose weight. The outcry was huge among the student population and caused distrust between the students and the Bryn Mawr administration. Colorado College and Bryn Mawr College are just two examples of the ways that body shaming can happen on a college campus in order to foster their dominant culture. While there is an importance to live a healthy lifestyle and take care of your body, there is also an importance to not shame men in thinking that they are not “man enough” because they do not display physical strength and washboard abs. We need to recognize that these college environments can be detrimental through their overwhelming presence and exclusionary programs. We need to recognize that the inherent shaming that goes on is dangerous for masculine identities and how they are perceived. We need to recognize that there is a toxicity when it comes to the masculine identity and strength. Strength comes in many different forms and not in just physicality. Strength is when life hits you with an ailment or tragedy that hits you close to home and you are forced to deal with it. Strength doesn’t always have to be portrayed through a physically fit body and to be dominating or intimidating others. Strength can also be portrayed through having emotions and letting them show. Let’s dismantle the idea that your body is the only way to show that we are strong. We need to apply these notions to male students as they come onto campus. Let them know that they do not need to assimilate to the culture and that we don’t associate their masculinity to their body type.

“Exclusionary programs” = programs and resources and facilities that are available to, literally, every single student. Not only is it not exclusionary, it is by definition, the EXACT FUCKING OPPOSITE.

“While there is an importance to live a healthy lifestyle and take care of your body,” – that’s it, end the sentence there, there is no need for a comma. There is an importance to taking care of your body. It is how you don’t die.

“We need to apply these notions to male students as they come onto campus. Let them know that they do not need to assimilate to the culture and that we don’t associate their masculinity to their body type.” – We need to teach unhealthy people coming to college that they don’t have to get healthy they should show their strength by remaining unhealthy and then dying at an early age.

Nothing and I mean nothing portrays strength like lying in a casket at age 45 after a massive heart attack.

TL;DR – Colorado College has a really hot student body with almost unlimited resources for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and getting in shape, as well as a socially conscious dining hall program designed to cut down on food waste… and all of that is VERY BAD.