Our generation has been avoiding a conversation that needs to be had — a conversation about a struggle that we’ve all faced, often in silence: body image.

Take a simple task like going to CVS and consider the psychological repercussions. In the magazine section alone sit dozens of pictures of size two women or men with Adonis bodies, made-up, hair-styled and airbrushed to perfection.

Sometimes you don’t care, but there are times when you can’t help but compare yourself. Similarly, you walk past foods, many of which are labeled “low fat” or “low calorie” or even have “skinny” or “thin” in their names. Reaching for full-calorie foods feels wrong, almost shameful.

Even if humanity somehow banded together to eliminate photo-manipulation, diversify the body types presented to us in the media and set more realistic standards, it would take a long time to undo this damage and to eliminate excessive exercising and crazy diets.

Although a “fit campus” like Georgetown can motivate us to make healthier choices or go to the gym, it can also mean that we feel obligated to meet rigorous expectations about our own body images.

So why are we pretending like everything is OK? Why must we try to put a positive spin on our destructive habits? We speak freely about our long runs, exercise classes or healthy food choices. We even joke about nights spent pigging out on Ben & Jerry’s or pizza. But the fact remains that we are uncomfortable mentioning dissatisfaction with our bodies.

All of us have struggles with our body image. Many of us have at some point pushed ourselves to extremes: either obsessing over calorie intake and over-exercising or pigging out on food to compensate for what we’ve been denying our bodies (and then feeling guilty).

We feel like no one else on campus is going through the same problems. We feel like everyone else at Georgetown is perfect, athletic, healthy and unconditionally self-confident. Seeing one person eat a salad for dinner and talk about exercising that day is enough to make us feel self-conscious about choosing a burger or dessert.

Yes, things are changing. We are embracing more realistic ideas of beauty with role models who are not a size two. But alas, we still react to such role models with backhanded compliments. Jennifer Lawrence amazes us by eating “fattening foods” and admitting it shamelessly. Beyoncé inspires us by unapologetically showing off her curves. Essentially, society tells people like them, “You’re happy with the way you look? Even with those curves or that cellulite or those minute imperfections? You go! Pat on the back for you!”

Finding beauty in imperfections shouldn’t be seen as a rarity; the vast majority of people in America and in the world have curves or cellulite or love handles or acne or chicken legs or weird elbows or big foreheads, and this is normal, natural and beautiful at the same time.

We need to learn that Photoshop isn’t beautiful because it’s not real. In the back of our minds, we know that no one looks like those magazine covers — not even the models themselves — but we let their images affect us nonetheless. This is not the way to improve body image. Until we see beauty being a variety of shapes and sizes as the norm rather than a remarkable, rare feat, our ideas of beauty will never approach a realistic and healthy place.

We are happiest when we feel confident, when we love our bodies and ourselves. Let us create a happier, more loving campus, stop feigning perfection and stop comparing ourselves to others. Let us be unafraid to start this discussion. Most importantly, let us know that we are united in our struggles.

IMG_5443Melina Delkic is a rising sophomore in the College. Year One-And-A-Half appears every Wednesday at thehoya.com. 

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