One Year Later: A Reflection on “Victoria, We’ve Got Our Own Secret”

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I remember wearily writing “Victoria, We’ve Got Our Own Secret” at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday night last year, amidst all of the Sandusky carnage. It was one of the most effortless things I’ve ever written. When you speak from the heart, the words really do come easy. With that said, I hadn’t the slightest clue it would take off the way it did the next morning.

While I was excited about the post going viral — it’s still one of the most read Onward State posts of all time, only second to the squirrels of course —  I was also incredibly disturbed. After publication, I received several emails from women of all backgrounds and stature. One, in particular, really hit me hard. A high school girl told me that she’d been striving to achieve a flawless physique for years in an effort to meet the perfect guy. She wrote that although she actively swam and danced, her longtime boyfriend didn’t approve of her appearance and encouraged her to hit the gym. Wanting to please who she thought was the perfect man, she obliged and did “ridiculous” workouts. After weeks of routine exercises, this vulnerable girl decided to starve herself. “I wasn’t good enough for him and I thought he was the perfect guy, so I wanted to be exactly that way he wanted me to be,” she confided in the email.

Sadly, I fear that cases similar to the aforementioned one are all too common in today’s society. The modern media’s display of sex-related culture has led a sect of men to believe that a woman’s dress and bra size is not only an important thing, but the most important thing. As an American male, I’m embarrassed. It needs to end.

Believe it or not, men struggle with body image too, we’ll just never tell you about it. How many guys do you see go to the gym six days a week? Fact is, we’ve all attempted to fit into the mold that society expects at some point. Men are supposed to be strong and muscular. Women are supposed to be skinny and feminine. That’s what football and fashion shows have subconsciously taught us since grade school. Even I’ve had my share of self-confidence issues during high school and college (I think we all did/do at some point). Being only 5’ 8”, 130 pounds, I don’t really fall into the “perfect man” fantasy. But you know what? That’s completely fine, I don’t strive to be one anymore. I am who I am. I still have great friends, a fantastic girlfriend, and most importantly, I can look at myself in the mirror every morning without shame.

Look, I’m not perfect, you’re not perfect, nobody’s perfect. And just because we’re not perfect doesn’t mean we should strive for physical perfection, especially when it comes at the expense of our medical well-being and self-esteem.

Self-confidence is all about being comfortable with who you are. Don’t let anyone else, whether they’re stick-thin, super muscular, photoshopped, or have fake wings on a runway, dictate how you feel about yourself.

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About Author

Ryan is a senior in the Smeal College of Business majoring in Marketing. He is a Lion Ambassador who loves giving tours to prospective students. His favorite activities include distributing news and consuming Chipotle.

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