The Reporter's Body Image
One of my favorite tour stops on campus is the CIMS building on the back side of campus. The building is home to the Goss Sunday 2000, our ten million dollar press. The Goss 2000 is most recognized for printing the Reporter Magazine, our campus news paper. It is the nation’s only full-color weekly college magazine. Produced for the students, by the students, making it a great snap shot of what RIT students are really thinking about.
I bring up the Reporter because the edition printed last week blew me away. Normally the Reports is full of qwerky articles, great for passing time in class or for a laugh in the lounge. However, the current edition was fantastically written and put together. The theme was “the body issue.” All articles were written about societal influence on body image: how the concept of beauty has changed since the era of Marilyn Monroe; the perception of beauty in different cultures; and the influence of body image in sports. The main story last week was “Body Issue: We’re More than just Bags of Meat,” by Madeleine Villavicencio and Andy Rees. The article was to show that our bodies are more than “things to walk around in.” Andy and Madeleine photographed eight students and interviewed them on their concept of body image. For the full story click http://reportermag.com/article/02-05-2010/body-issue.
In addition to the main article, Andy Rees’ editor’s note made a huge impression on me. I’ve posted the note below because I believe it truly embodies the goal of the issue. As I mentioned before, the Reporter is normally very light hearted and brushes upon campus oddities and events. Every so often the Reporter Staff will produce a volume that shocks the campus and makes an impact. This weeks achieved that, reaching beyond the confines of campus and into the issues that are facing our society nationwide. I believe college students have the best potential to take initiative and make a difference in the world. Andy’s note is a great personal story that introduces the magazines articles and made me think about the issues at hand.
Editor's Note: Fat Kids
Weight change leads to life change.
by Andy Rees
People are usually surprised when I tell them that I was a “fat kid” growing up. They step back, look me over and tell me I’m lying. Then I pull out my passport with the photo of when I was 16 and weighing in at 240 pounds. Jaws drop.
When you’re growing up overweight, you spend a lot of time imagining what life would be like if you were skinny. You could get the girl. You could run a mile. You could stop getting made fun of on the school bus. Life would be great.
Well, by the time I was starting my senior year of high school, I had dropped 70 pounds. Strangely, I didn’t feel any different. People would come up to me and ask, “Do you have more energy now?” I didn’t. “Did you go on a diet?” Nope. “Are you sick?” I don’t think so. The only thing that changed was my pants size — or so I thought.
You see, when you grow up being treated one way because of your body type and then are suddenly not that body type, you have to start to redefine yourself. All of the lessons that you learned from being “the fat kid” are completely useless.
What I didn’t realize was how much of my life had been defined by the way other people saw me. It’s kind of sick, if you think about it. That first year post-“fat kid,” was rough. I spent most of it trying to get used to this new husk of a body that I lived in. People didn’t know how to treat me and I didn’t know how to treat them. It was awkward. I changed my group of friends. I wore different clothes.
I was even stopped at passport control in Moscow because I looked nothing like my passport photo. Try explaining via hand gestures that you lost weight. I dare you.
But it wasn’t all bad. There were all sorts of new and interesting things about this new person. I felt my abs for the first time. I took girls to dark parking lots. I did my first pull-up (seriously, you have no idea what it feels like to do your first pull-up).
It was game changing, but the scars of a childhood spent being asked how many donuts you ate that day never really fade. I still look in the mirror and stare at my slowly growing beer gut (you can blame this job for that), praying to God I’m not headed back down that road.
When you’re looking through this magazine, keep in mind just how much a person’s body image defines who they are. Take it from a fat kid.
Editor in Chief