Deerfield, our own little world—in which we are quite literally never apart—runs the risk of fostering a detrimental competitive environment. This close proximity to one another can have a hugely adverse effect on how we begin to treat and view ourselves.
Coming in as a new sophomore from the Midwest, I had a cultural wake-up call of sorts. I was intimidated by how intelligent, beautiful and athletic the girls and boys around me were. I felt insecure.
As much as I love Deerfield, the culture here can cause people to question their sense of self. Students often feel a pressure to become what they perceive as the “Deerfield Girl” or “Deerfield Boy.”
As much as I dislike stereotyping our community one cannot deny that girls feel pressure to be tan, thin and atheletic, while boys feel pressure to be muscly gym rats. We see this small niche in our community, and our subconscious tells us we should aspire to be like that.
Deerfield can inadvertently contribute to these pressures (the salad bar and the gym are two prime examples).
There is a huge fear among students of living up to certain ridiculously high standards. Though we come from different backgrounds and stories, we are willing to change the most unique things about us to fit in.
There is a huge focus and much discussion on the eating culture, but what people don’t understand is that eating disorders evolve into insecurities far beyond losing weight.
We can come into Deerfield feeling confident, beautiful and intelligent, but when we arrive and see our equally talented and beautiful peers, our confidence crumbles. We begin to think that if we just try to fit the norm, then we will feel like less of an outlier.
But we can end the cyclical existence of pressures to fit the norm. We can end the huge stigma around the eating culture and the gym culture.
Once we see past the stereotypical Deerfield student, once we stop putting pressure on ourselves to be and act like everyone else, things will begin to change.
Instead of paying so much attention to our image and comparing ourselves to others, we should start telling ourselves diat we are pretty damn amazing as we are.