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History of the "Freshman Fifteen"

November 20, 2006

There’s a intriguing article at HNN today by Margaret Lowe on the history of the “freshman fifteen.” For those non-American, non-collegians who read here, that’s a derisive phrase – used by both men and women – to describe common weight gain by college women in their first and second semesters. Lowe’s article, titled “Why Many First Year Female Students Will Dread Going Home Thanksgiving,” returns to the late 1800s and early 1900s, when the numbers of women going to college experienced its first quantitative rise. Then it was believed that women would suffer any number of psychological problems due to the stresses of intense study. The comments at HNN note a few problems with Lowe’s analysis, but I still think it’s worth reading. – TL

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