I just finished my first year of college and so it has been a great time to reflect on what this year has brought me. Living away from home for a year is bound to change you in ways you would never expect. One of the biggest changes I noticed in myself was a body positivity trait that jumped out at me. I’ve never been very critical of my body. I never really know my weight off the top of my head and, besides eating decently healthy, I have never dieted or watched what I’ve eaten in any major way. I don’t believe that I have ever disliked my body but I never thought that perhaps I was less comfortable in it than I could’ve been. This comfort is what I gained over my first year.
Back at home, I never really walked around in a towel much. It’s the smallest thing that I noticed that made a huge difference once I went away. At school, I had communal bathrooms so I would walk down the hallway by everyone’s rooms in order to go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, or shower. At first, I wore my robe down the hallway every time which worked just fine but it made things slightly difficult in the sense that I had more to haul back and forth between the bathroom each time. Soon enough, I started seeing people wear their towels to cover themselves and I decided to try it out myself. The towel covered the necessities and made it less of an ordeal to shower. Parents probably feel some discomfort from the thought of less clothing but this was my home and I was determined to feel comfortable in my own body here.
I think so much changed from the beginning of the year to the end in terms of how comfortable us girls became around each other in the bathroom. We all started off terrified that somebody would see us in the split second it took to grab our towels off the hook after a shower but by the end, people would comfortably hang up their towel and then proceed to step into the shower instead of trying to hang it up as you cover yourself in the shower curtain you are scared to touch. You might be thinking, “Okay, you girls didn’t care about seeing each other naked really anymore — why do I care?” but I’d say it’s how this transfers into what we wear when we left our dorm building.
Prior to this year, I always felt uncomfortable with parts of my body even if I didn’t dislike them. My boobs aren’t very big and my stomach isn’t the flattest and my thighs are too thick to easily find a pair of shorts that fit without seeming scandalous. Throughout the year though, I found a comfort within my own skin. Never before would I have ever gone braless to a class in anything but a sweatshirt or an oversized t-shirt. As the year went on though, I grew to love the feeling of bralettes and avoiding a bra when possible. Sure, this might emphasize the fact that my boobs aren’t the largest, but I had somehow become okay and confident in that.
Considering the school I attend is known for its party reputation (that it’s trying to shake off as a wet dog does after a bath), I attended my share of parties. There’s an option at these parties to dress to your best and still remain more conservative or to show off a bit more — typically people choose the second option. There’s something about the party environment that allows people to let go of the fear of judgment. This is also the place that I have seen some of the most female-female support as well. It’s common to hear girls who have never met before raving about how good a girl looks or how adorable her outfit is. Parties are some of the places with the most freedom and some of the most support, something that I was not expecting.
Like I said before, this school was home for the year and we wanted to be comfortable in where we lived. Nobody judged if you walked in from the pool in a bikini top and a towel or a bikini bottom under an oversized shirt. Nobody cared if you walked down the hall in your squeaky shower shoes and a towel. It opened up my eyes that nobody is ever paying as much attention to you as you think.
It’s not the end of the world if another girl sees a glimpse of you as you’re getting into the shower. If you feel more comfortable in bralettes or going braless, go for it. It is your body to dress how you would like. If you want to let loose once a week and maybe dress a tad more scandalous for a party because you feel good in your skin today, who is anyone to stop you? If you feel confident in your body, you should go out there and embrace that feeling. Chances are, you’ll have people willing to back you up or, at the very least, no one cares as much as you might think. Everyone else is too worried about themselves to waste their energy judging every inch of your body.
I came to this realization towards the end of the year and began to try things that I would’ve second-guessed before. That is not to say that I showed off more skin or wore less clothing. I simply wore different styles that I would’ve been afraid to before, or I didn’t completely soak my clothes fully redressing after coming back from the pool or beach.
I want to thank this first year of college for giving me the confidence that I have gained in myself physically the past 12 months. I want to thank the experience thus far for letting me embrace a version of me that I am comfortable expressing to the world. I want to thank college for allowing me to confidently squeak down the hallway in my shower shoes, not thinking twice about wearing a towel.