Courtesy of Betty Kubovy-Weiss

Betty Kubovy-Weiss ’25 is a self-proclaimed master at making midnight exits from college parties. For the 19-year-old body activist, the battle of finding belonging, self-empathy and confidence in places that do not celebrate diverse bodies is one that hits close to home — and one that she is actively sharing with others.

When she was 8 years old, Kubovy-Weiss became the subject of a viral controversy after her mother, Dara-Lynn Weiss, published a controversial Vogue article and accompanying book about her decision to put her on a strict diet. A decade later, Kubovy-Weiss spoke publicly about the experience in an interview with Business Insider where she called mother her best friend, commended her for breaking the ice on an uncomfortable social issue and described their mother-daughter relationship as a forever-evolving one. 

However, Kubovy-Weiss’s relationship with her body remains a complex journey that involves a lot of “unlearning” diet norms and beauty standards she was exposed to growing up. Being thrust into college culture last year was one of the main reasons why she chose to continue her body activism through informative social media posts, essays, television conversations and a soon-to-come podcast with the Yale Record.

“College is a time when people are independent for the first time and our bodies are a big way in which we feel our independence,” Kubovy-Weiss said. “[People] are suddenly faced with the task of navigating their relationship with their bodies for maybe the first time … but even for … someone that had always had a complicated relationship with my body, college was still a real shock to my system.”

She mentioned that some of the loneliness and anxiety she experienced during her first year manifested in insecurities about her body which were not as prominent in high school. She felt the negativity creep in most pervasively in intense social spaces, where the physical tremelo of loud music and sweaty bodies would override her habits of emotional meditation.

Though the transition to college and subsequent lapse in confidence were “destabiliz[ing],” Kubovy-Weiss ultimately found a newfound comfort in writing and educating her followers on body positivity history and health. 

Her Instagram stories, beyond celebrating plus-sized celebrities and her own modeling with lingerie company Parade, have also called out the fashion industry’s double standards and the shortage of plus-sized clothing in prominent chains like Urban Outfitters. She explained that the terms “thin,” “fat” and “beauty” are currently very blurred with “health” but pushed back on this association.” According to Kubovy-Weiss, these pervasive body standards can obfuscate the nuanced relationship between body size and health, particularly in the cases of eating disorders and cultural differences.

In other words, a smaller body is not necessarily a healthier one.

Complicating these problems for teenagers are the intense hookup and party cultures that can define college campuses, Kubovy-Weiss said. After finding herself having a less-than-optimal time at some parties because of the physical comparisons she would make between herself and other attendees, she has adopted a habit of giving herself a pep talk whenever she feels conscious of her body. Sometimes, she likes to tell herself that she’s “the hottest person here” in a way that focuses on positive self-affirmation rather than putting others down. 

As for her biggest piece of advice for other partygoers, however, she encourages students to surround themselves with people who make them feel appreciated. And if that is not possible, she wants to remind others that making a “midnight exit” in the middle of the party is completely okay. It’s something that she has practiced, learned and relearned this past semester. 

In college, it feels like [women] are automatically expected to be at their peak physical condition. I’ve experienced this the most with party culture, and the groups that tend to have a sort of social monopoly on the party scene at Yale,” suitemate Isabella Walther-Meade ’25 told the News, echoing the notion that not everyone’s experience on High St. is alike. “Although it’s usually not explicit, I think if you’re not a thin white woman, you have an inherently different awareness of the dynamics of these spaces.”

Since meeting Kubovy-Weiss in the beginning of last year, Walther-Meade has seen her friend’s activism journey “flourish,” “grow” and evolve toward confidence.

These moments of confidence sometimes spark in unexpected places, she said, recalling the times she watched her friend “open up a mosh pit at SigChi” or “plan to make an Irish exit to Est Est Est.”

“Oh, what doesn’t a night out with Betty look like?” Walther-Meade asked herself, picturing her late-night adventures with Kubovy-Weiss.

She takes pride in watching Kubovy-Weiss walk the fine line between being publicly vulnerable and sharing life experiences on her own terms — a duality that has inspired herself to set professional boundaries while working toward healing her own complicated relationship with food.

Thriving socially and cultivating feelings of belonging for those around remain an ongoing element in her Yale story. 

“Even in the context of positive experiences, the awareness of not being the primary target of these social groups that aren’t exactly historically diverse is heavy,” Walther-Meade said. “It’s hard to feel fully integrated, even when you’re consistently involved.”

Walther-Meade is not the only person who has drawn passion from Kubovy-Weiss’s activism. Her brother, Theo Kubovy-Weiss ’26, a freshman at Yale, said that her fervent independence has “instilled” in him more active thinking about the connections between a person’s size and the way they are treated, the relationships they have and the opportunities available to them. 

Though his sister’s body activism is “rooted in [their] family,” he cited the cyclic nature of her work, stating that she has gained comfort with sharing the rawer and more bandaged parts of her story.

Brian Zhang is Arts editor of the Yale Daily News and the third-year class president at Yale. Previously, he covered student life for the University desk. His writing can also be found in Insider Magazine, The Sacramento Bee, BrainPOP, New York Family and uInterview. Follow @briansnotebook on Instagram for more!