Embracing self-love vs. a ‘beach body’

Photo courtesy: Aniya Gaines

While spring break is quickly approaching, the question looms: are students getting physically fit? Juggling schoolwork, jobs and finding the time to exercise can be difficult. Rather than yielding to societal pressures to meet a specific physical ideal, many students are prioritizing self-acceptance and body positivity this spring break season. 

Even though the FAMU rec center is open and invites all students, many students are opting out of a “beach body” in favor of accepting their bodies as they are. This shift in mentality is part of a larger cultural movement toward body acceptance and inclusivity. Rebekah Mardy, who is majoring in biology pre-med at Florida A&M and a customer service representative at the rec center, said, “The number of students using the gym changes frequently, but I feel like once it is closer to the break more students are going to want to use the gym.” 

Students are not focusing solely on the pressure of reaching a certain goal before the break. School has been the focus for Maya Morino, a sophomore majoring in health science. “I used to feel a lot of pressure to get in shape for spring break, but this year I have changed my perspective about what defines my worth. I’m gorgeous just the way I am, and I’m not going to allow society’s expectations to influence how I feel about myself,” she said. 

For many students, embracing self-love over fitness goals is empowering and freeing. FAMU students are not neglecting their health but learning to love where they are now. 

Jamir Roberts, a Junior majoring in psychology, said, “I’m still going to have a great time on break, but obsessing over how I look right now won’t do me any good. I think the best thing for me is to eat a little healthier, but I don’t feel like I have time for the gym right now.” 

The rise of social media has contributed significantly to the shift toward body positivity among college students, but social media has been the reason for the beauty standards that are being put in place. Instagram and TikTok have grown into popular platforms for encouraging self-love and challenging beauty standards, with users posting inspiring words and uplifting material that celebrates diversity in all its forms.

Making time with friends and family over the break is important. Yes, students are still utilizing the gym on campus but that is not the focus for many students. Everyone is moving at their own pace to reach the goals that are most important to them. 

As spring break approaches, the campus setting may appear different from in previous years, with fewer students visiting the gym and more choosing a mentality of acceptance and self-care. 

While physical fitness remains a realistic goal for many, the growing body positivity movement is a powerful reminder that beauty comes in all shapes, size, and forms — and that true pleasure comes in accepting yourself.