Views expressed in opinion columns are the author's own.
In the last few months, Rihanna seems to have gained a bit of weight. The internet has been quick to notice and criticize. I, for one, am all for Rihanna's changing body. Maybe keeping up with celebrities is not what I should be doing this summer, but I know I'm not alone in my more superficial hobbies. And one thing that always stuck like a needle in my side was how seemingly every conventionally attractive female celebrity stayed conventionally attractive year after year. While that's probably not true, it's certainly the image put out to consumers.
Since middle school, I have been embarrassingly consumed with the fickle relationship between the amount of Ben and Jerry's I eat and the way my acid-wash cutoff shorts fit. Sometimes it feels like weight maintenance is more difficult than weight loss. I've driven myself crazy overcompensating for eating what I wanted. And that need to maintain, that toxic fear of change, has stayed with me in varying degrees my entire life.
But then here comes 2017 Rihanna, rocking about 10 extra pounds yet seemingly not weighed down at all. Maybe her unbothered air is masking some kind of relatable insecurity. I hope not. I hope that this fabulous, chunkier Rihanna knows that she still has the same amazing effect on audiences everywhere.
I love the growing plus-size model industry, or better yet, the increasing diversity of body types in fashion shows and marketing campaigns. But what I am really loving is the acceptance of change I see showcased by Rihanna. I love the idea that weight gain is not failure, it is only a result of a life change. Maybe she's been eating more studio sliders as she records. Maybe she's been vacationing and trying the food the world has to offer. Maybe she's given herself a break. It's not my place to investigate, but for whatever it's worth, Rihanna's weight gain is a souvenir of the life she's living.
Rihanna probably did not set out to make a statement, but she's influencing others nonetheless. Girls and boys as young as preteens will look at her, killing the game with unmatched confidence, and hopefully know they are attractive and worthy as more than one iteration of themselves. Maybe anyone freaking out about the freshman fifteen will feel better about the fact that their changing bodies are probably the result of late night Pizza Kingdom, long talks over Insomnia Cookies or between-class lunches at the Chick-Fil-A in Stamp. While these indulgences may have made our bellies a little softer and our thighs a little thicker, I didn't go to any of those places without my friends.
Erin Hill is a sophomore psychology major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.