It’s okay to care what other people think

February 26, 2004

Mills College Weekly

One of the historical goals of a women’s college has been to
separate education and everything typically associated with male
counterparts, including their supposed domination of class
discussions, undermining women’s capabilities, and feeling the need
to clam up and try to pose as dainty little girls and impress. So
it seems that as National Eating Disorder Awareness Week comes and
goes, Mills shouldn’t be as ridden with eating disorders as, say, a
big co-ed university. We are resilient women who could care less
what other people think of them at first glance, right?

In my first semester here I have been exposed to more eating
issues than I even knew existed. When I go to Founders, sitting
down to eat I see the wandering eyes that are inspecting what I’ve
collected on my tray and comparing it to their own. When I go to
the gym the girls on either side of me frequently glance at the
calorie counter on my treadmill and glance back at their own. (This
one’s gotten so bad that I switch modes so it doesn’t say how many
calories you’re burning). These are just the hidden, undefined
types of disorders that often fall outside the terms “anorexic” or
“bulimic,” but are often just as harmful.

I don’t think I know a single girl that doesn’t have some sort
of issue with food, and I’ve always thought that dealing with these
disorders, in whatever form they come, has not been sufficiently
researched or dealt with. Obviously this obsession with health is
an idealistic societal thing, but if more efforts were made to be
blunt and deal with the issues I think that society could nip it in
the bud.

Another aspect of this is why do so many people around here
claim not to care what other people think? Obviously we all care
what people’s reactions to us are to a certain extent, and it’s
completely apparent by these issues related to body image. I have
heard so many times in passing and in my own conversations with
people “Well, I don’t care what they think.” You don’t have to go
around preaching that the only person you’re trying to impress is
yourself, because usually that just reflects a further level of

Mills is undeniably full of strong, complex women, but I’m
curious why so many of them deny that they care about their
appearance and the reactions of those around them. It’s okay to
care, because that’s how we improve ourselves in every aspect of
life. The eating disorders that are so prevalent here are just a
reflection of a very unhealthy extent that so many girls go to
improve how they appear to others.

It’s okay to care what other people think was published on February 26, 2004 in Opinions

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