Kuznikov: I deserve a little treat, and so do you

Selena Kuznikov, Stipend Coordinator

Content warning: This article contains mentions of body dysmorphia.

Waking up groggy from a measly six hours of sleep, the first thing on my mind is always a little treat. What will I have today? A matcha latte with oat milk from Peet’s Coffee? A pastry from Cupitol? Or better yet, a hot vanilla latte with oat milk from Coffee Lab!

I am a self-proclaimed “little treat girly.” These small delights fuel me for probably three-quarters of the time I’m working on something. Even as I write this, I’m sipping on a can of blood orange San Pellegrino sparkling juice. Treats have helped me persevere through menial tasks, the toughest parts of school and overall life in general. The comfort of using part of my day to take care of myself is unmatched.

In 2022, The New York Times Style section published an article on “little treat culture” in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. The piece focused on how treats as a form of self-care can help bring about a sense of normalcy in the most un-normal times. But beyond the pandemic, the idea of taking a portion of your day to practice some sort of self-care is 1000% necessary. On the quarter system, it is especially necessary. 

When I started college, my little treat intake grew exponentially. This obviously wasn’t a bad thing. But as my body began to fluctuate naturally, I began feeling the dark clouds of negative body imagery creep up on me like the villain in a horror movie. I felt like a character in the Scream franchise, dreading a call from Ghostface. I couldn’t explain why, but the feeling always seemed to lurk in the back of my mind. 

It’s not like I hadn’t faced this issue before college. Body image struggles have followed me since my adolescence. According to the National Organization for Women, 53% of girls in the United States are “unhappy with their bodies” at age 13. This grows to about 78% by the time they reach 17. But, the hectic nature of freshman year morphing into the stress of sophomore year heightened those feelings in a way I hadn’t felt before. 

I started to cut out my little treats in hopes of changing something about the way I looked and felt. The drinks I picked up before class or the slice of Whole Foods tiramisu I got before studying began to disappear. 

But, I headed to the mall one day and stood looking at myself in the daunting communal mirrors at Aritzia. The girl staring back at me could only think negatively about herself. Where had I lost myself? Why was I neglecting a part of my day that brought me so much joy? 

Looking back, I realize just how much stress was making me irrational? Why was I expecting my 19-year-old body to be exactly the same as it was when I was 15? I was trying to put myself into a box that logically made no sense. 

So, I started picking up a latte on my way to the library again, or having a chocolate croissant after grocery shopping –– just because I felt like it. I won’t lie and pretend returning to this sense of routine was easy, but deep down I knew it would make me happier and fuel my days in the long run. 

There is absolutely no reason to feel bad about your little treat. And, there’s no reason to feel bad about growing into your body. Having a system in place to make your day a little better means the world.

My little treats always bring a tiny joy to my day. I love taking time to make myself feel special, no matter the treat. Why would I deny myself that small taste of happiness?

So, I’m gonna have my little treat today. And I hope you treat yourself too.

Selena Kuznikov is a Medill sophomore. She can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.