There is a great need for support and discussion for the plus-size community on college campuses. In even the most intersectional schools, it is difficult, if not impossible, to find a space for people to discuss their experiences with their body type. In a world that continues to struggle with accepting the fact that plus-size people exist, having a space to talk about it on college campuses could help so many people find their place at school and in the real world, as well as educate other members of the student population.
Ramapo is a small liberal arts college that promotes inclusivity. Regardless of these good intentions, the group of people who seem to be “forgotten” about and lack a place to feel included and supported would be the plus-size community.
Violence prevention specialist Kacie Otto wrote for Presence, “inclusion must include body size diversity, or we are failing fat students in all racial, queer, and socio-economic groups.”
I can’t help but side with Otto. Inclusion should mean that everybody — all racial, queer, socio-economic and plus-size groups — should feel seen and heard on college campuses.
“There are so many people that would greatly benefit from being acknowledged and having a space where they can really feel like themselves as well as talk to other people who might relate to them,” Emily Melvin, a junior, said. “And it could help destigmatize fatphobic culture that’s just in our society overall.”
From my own experience, having a conversation with someone with a similar body type as me is very healing. Understanding that I am not alone in my insecurities, struggles and experiences in everyday life has positively impacted my ability to feel comfortable in my own skin.
None of this is to say that Ramapo makes its plus-size students feel unwelcome or excluded, but having the opportunity to go to a place where people understand some of our struggles could be so beneficial to many people on campus.
How can college campuses begin to implement change? “I think promoting a discussion whether it be a discussion group or a club or maybe something promoted through the women’s center, it’s just a way that people can have a safe space to be open and talk,” Melvin said.
We, unfortunately, live in a society that struggles to accept that plus-size people exist. Anytime someone in this community attempts to share their experiences on the internet they are just shot down and criticized for simply sharing their life experiences. If people have a designated safe space surrounded by people who share experiences with them and understand what it is like to be a part of this community, it could change the lives of so many.
If colleges such as Ramapo begin to give people from the plus-size community the space to feel comfortable, not only would this help them feel more understood, but it may help educate people about the plus-size community and about how people within this group are wrongfully depicted in society.