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In Defense of the Freshman Fifteen

Bwog’s “In Defense Of…” returns with a look at a first-year’s worst nightmare: the Freshman Fifteen.  

Let’s get one thing straight: gaining 15 pounds doesn’t mean you’re suddenly fat. For all Bwog knows, you came to Columbia weighing 90 pounds: forgetting to eat and do your homework second semester senior year. You may have even skipped a few meals this summer in order to work on your svelte hipster big city physique. You can try to avoid it, but you will gain weight. There’s a lot of good food in New York City that you can eat. There’s also a lot of bad and heavy food you have to eat a certain amount of in John Jay because you’re a freshman. You really don’t have a choice but to relish your situation. Because not only can you have FroYo at John Jay before and after every meal, and Shake Shack on Columbus every night if you want (college! no parents! woo!) you get to complain about it with the other 1,499 people in your grade. It’s called camaraderie.  

Having perspective on the Freshman 15 is the ultimate case of the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” ethos. As a first-year with an oppressive dining plan you can’t escape, you are destined to live out two semesters chock-full of peanut butter sandwiches when everything in John Jay looks inedible. There will be many Butler brownie-fueled all-nighters as you try to remember how to write a paper, a skill you forgot when spent the majority of your senior year bragging about the college you were going to and watching TV instead of going to school.

So, OK, you’re a little chub right now. But look around you. Everyone you know is, too! And everyone is talking about it. Making friends is easy now. Hang out by the John Jay salad bar and find someone to commiserate with about the wilted lettuce, make plans to go to the gym (haha) with your new pal. Plan a Riverside walk with your floor after a particularly awful Sunday brunch, and most of all, complain. Nothing brings people who don’t know each other particularly well yet than sharing things to kvetch about. Welcome to New York City! If you stay here, you’ll be grumbling with strangers for the rest of your life: when the subway gets stuck, when there aren’t any taxis, when the city raises prices on something or other. You get the point. Listen, the Jewish mother in Bwog is worried for you. Have a snack. 


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  • Quit Yer Bitchin! says:

    @Quit Yer Bitchin! John Jay isn’t that bad. The food may seem salty to you cry babies because it’s covered in your tears of self-pity by the time you eat it.

  • umm how about says:

    @umm how about we all just read that NYT article about the freshman 15. cuz it was poetic and cool and crap.

  • bull says:

    @bull i lost fifteen pounds as a frosh cuz the food in John Jay is horrible. Sophomore year, beer, and my own food solved that tho.

  • solution... says:

    @solution... become an athlete

    1. except says:

      @except that might result in a signficant loss of neurons by association.

  • oh hay says:

    @oh hay bwog forgot #1 cause of froshling weight gain: BOOZE! nothing like 15 beers every 3-day weekend for keeping the figure svelte!

    1. freshmen? says:

      @freshmen? try ‘every weekend.’

  • dude says:

    @dude For some reasonably tall dudes, eating badly just means you don’t get enough nutrition. I came into Columbia weighing around 135, at a little under 6 feet. Gained about five pounds between freshman and sophomore year, it took until junior year for me to gain 30 pounds, and I am much healthier at 170 than I ever was before.

  • ??? says:

    @??? “For all Bwog knows, you came to Columbia weighing 90…” Since when is 90 lbs a healthy weight for a college student of average height? There is something seriously wrong with the way we define the parameters of desirable body image in our society.

  • cc2010 says:

    @cc2010 I didn’t gain the freshman 15, nor did any of my friends, really. Our experience was more akin to “we’re poor starving college students” than “john jay is so bountiful that we’re going to gorge ourselves on froyo.”

  • Another Freshmen says:

    @Another Freshmen I’ve gained 15 full pounds. And you know what? It’s okay. So let’s relish the camaraderie this provides us and stop complaining about a Bwog article.

  • A Freshman says:

    @A Freshman There are so many issues with this bwog post and with some of the responses. In no particular order:

    A) Nobody is forced into eating the “heavy, bad food” from John Jay. Yes, I have to have a ridiculous and completely unnecessary John Jay Dining Plan. But I do not have to eat the pile of carbs that they throw in front of me. I eat a salad and a turkey burger (sans bun) instead. I will also never use all of the meals they “gave” me. 330 meals at John Jay in a year is completely unrealistic, but rather than be sucked into the “I have to use all of these or I’m going to lose them” mentality, I’ll simply forfeit them and get my own food.

    B) This post doesn’t so much defend the Freshman 15 as explain how to gain it.

    C) Eating disorders don’t just affect women.

    D) Just because someone is thin doesn’t mean that they have an eating disorder.

    E) I am not an athlete. Nor a cokehead. Yet, I am skinny. This should not be so according to the logic presented above, because I’m not one of the girls with an eating disorder either.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous all the compulsive smokers on campus!

    Sure, smoking helps keep you from gaining weight but can’t they hear their lungs writhing in agony?

  • ... says:

    @... Some people are obese… some people are aneorexic…

    I think the point of this piece is more about the camraderie of complaining about everything… As a senior, I now realize that what brings everyone together on this diverse campus is complaining…

    even the save the aneorexic people on this thread are engaging in the act of complaining (in this case about the insensitive author overlooking the skinny people)

  • How... says:

    @How... …is it that the girl in the picture only ways 15 lbs?

    1. umm says:

      @umm “ways”? really???

    2. The real question is says:

      @The real question is What did she weigh BEFORE she gained her freshman 15?

  • wow says:

    @wow there is so much pressure to be thin on this campus and in this city its a bit unreal. there are many factors that go into someone’s weight. sometimes its a medical condition, sometimes its a psychological condition, sometimes it’s both. it’s rarely laziness. i still see far too many girls who are thinner than i was when i exercised compulsively for 2 hours a day and weighed 100 pounds. something ain’t right.

  • YUCK says:

    @YUCK It irks me that the picture says “Freshmen 15” instead of “Freshman 15”. Also, that girls feet are DISGUSTING.

  • freshmen 15? says:

    @freshmen 15? i gained the freshman 20. on top of the 15 from my spending the majority of my senior year bragging about where i was going to school and watching TV instead of going to school.

  • seriously says:

    @seriously its not that big of a deal.

  • FYI says:

    @FYI The freshman 15 is a MYTH. if you gain weight freshman year it is most likely just a few pounds, and, for most people, nothing to worry about. Concern over gaining the freshman 15 has propelled many a college student to engage in unhealthy eating and/or exercise behaviors, and this post does nothing but trigger people who could already be teetering on the edge. Granted, not every college student gets an eating disorder, but as #2 said, look around you: people at this campus are incredibly unhealthy and there is definitely a higher proportion of the student body with food/body image issues than at other colleges. How about talking (in a non-sarcastic way) about why it’s okay if you’re not 90 pounds?

    1. au contraire says:

      @au contraire The only skinny people on this campus are the athletes and the cokeheads. Everyone else is incredibly lazy and out of shape. No one uses the gym except for the athletes and the girls with eating disorders.

  • A Fan says:

    @A Fan I’m so glad Bwog has Jewish mother! I’ve always wanted one!

  • people who gain says:

    @people who gain those 15 are just lazy… hell people who are obese are mostly… just… lazy

  • Not Really says:

    @Not Really Why did I spell whose as “who’s”. I really have no idea. I blame the admissions office for not catching me quick enough.

  • Not Really says:

    @Not Really This campus is the opposite of obese. I see a lot of people who’s meals at John Jay consist of baby tomatoes and the occasional piece of fish. How else are we supposed to fit into those leggings?

  • Silly Rabbit says:

    @Silly Rabbit In defense of obesity?

    Well that sure takes man-sized balls to defend. I applaud.

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