THE SANTA CLARA
February 27, 2014
The countdown to spring break has begun.
That means that bathing suit season is rapidly approaching. Students on campus are already taking advantage of California’s abnormally warm weather and choosing to soak up the sun in their free time. But what does this permeating presence of bikinis and board shorts mean for our campus community?
The pressure to keep up physically in terms of fitness and attractiveness can get pretty intense for Santa Clara students. Not helping things is the fact that, apparently, we have a reputation to uphold.
According to a survey conducted by Newsweek, Santa Clara is ranked the second most beautiful campus in the country, thanks to palm trees, roses and students. The website College Prowler considers Santa Clara to have the “sixth-hottest” girls and “ninth-hottest” guys in the country as well. Such a high ranking might be something to be proud of, but it also runs the risk of making us want to rank even higher.
How much is too much?
We are part of an extremely active student body. On any given day, it is completely normal to see people running the campus loop fervently, and Pat Malley Fitness and Recreation Center is almost always crowded. Being physically fit for the benefit of health and wellness is a great lifestyle, but for those who are perhaps less active than their peers, the pressure to fit in is immense.
For the most part, Santa Clara students have a signature look. The girls wear leggings, boots or Nikes, blousy tops and a vest, carrying a Longchamp bag. The boys wear shorts, Sperry’s and a button-down shirt or tank top. Everyone is in good shape physically, and if you don’t fit this mold, you stand out.
Whether this is fairly accurate or simply a stereotype, it serves as the standard that Santa Clara students aspire to be.
In the wake of Family Weekend, it is clear that the apple of appearance doesn’t fall far from the tree. The parents of students happen to look very similar to their college-age offspring.
The legacy of campus attractiveness continues with every freshman class.
There is too much of an emphasis on appearance on campus. Being healthy is important, but this goes beyond that. Most of us connect health with a certain body shape, and being well dressed with a particular style. Such assumptions make those who don’t fit the mold — at a university that embodies diversity at its core — feel unwelcome.
Personally, I feel guilty if I miss a day at the gym, and I consciously think about how I compare to the appearance of my peers in class. It’s safe to say I’m not alone in these sentiments.
Our focus is moving away from personal wellness and toward an obsession with always looking attractive. While it’s an admirable goal to stay active, healthy and physically fit, I think Santa Clara could tone it down a bit.
With well-intentioned goals, maybe we will become the No. 1 most attractive school in the country, but if the race to the top is detrimental to our community, who knows what will happen?
Alexandra Armas is a senior communication major.