As the weather begins to warm up, thoughts can start racing in our minds about how we need to start dieting or exercising more, to burn more calories, to make sure we are small enough for the summer, to fit into that bathing suit, or to wear shorts or a tank top and not be embarrassed of our bodies.
We start to chase what we believe is the best “summer body”. Keep reading to find out why this whole concept is problematic, and how we can start to change the narrative to accept ourselves exactly as we are right now.
Why are you trying to change your body in the first place?
It is believed that the “perfect summer body” means having toned muscles, visible abs, no cellulite, tanned skin, and a thin figure. All of these standards are what society has portrayed as “beauty”. All of these standards change throughout the years, so in my opinion, none of these standards are actually REAL. It’s simply whatever is “trending” at the moment.
If you have body goals that you want to achieve, it is important to ask yourself WHY:
Are you trying to change so that you fit in to the current trend?
Do you want to feel more confident in your skin?
Do you want to impress someone?
Are you looking for outward praise?
Are you looking to be more athletic and enjoy movement?
Reasons that are intrinsically motivated (come from within) are far more sustainable than wanting to change our bodies to “meet a certain standard”. Please remember that your body is beautiful and that you shouldn’t have to change the way that you look in order to please someone else.
The problem with the “summer body” phrase
In my opinion, the biggest problem with the “summer body” is that it insinuates that your body is not good enough.
First of all, that is not true. Secondly, reaching a certain “size” does not mean you will all of the sudden become confident. Confidence comes from within, which is what all of this boils down to – confidence to wear the bathing suit, wear the shorts, wear the tank top.
As a society, we have come a long way, and we are starting to have more representation in mainstream media of “normal” bodies. When we see ourselves represented in the media (not just stereotypical skinny, “perfect” bodies), we start to feel more at ease in our own bodies. I think we still have work to do in this area, but I am so glad that we are finally starting to see more diverse body types on the internet/tv/etc.
What happens when you adopt this “summer body” mentality?
Does it only affect you in this season or does it trickle into other areas of your life? The “summer body” mentality can lead to unhealthy eating habits, unhealthy relationships with exercise, and even eating disorders. This mentality can make you feel like your body isn’t good enough and cause you to go to extremes in order to change it, in hopes that you feel satisfied with your body, and in turn, feel more confident in yourself.
So, no, this isn’t simply something that only affects you during the summer, it can be something that causes you to go down a very slippery path and can impact your life.
We MUST stop using the phrase “summer body”. We are ALL deserving to wear what we want, and our size or physical appearance should not have anything to do with being “allowed” to wear certain items of clothing more so than someone else. A “summer body” is a body in the summer time. That’s it.
6 Ways to Honor Your Body
Start with asking yourself WHY you are looking to achieve a “summer body”
Is it to become a healthier human? To enjoy movement more? Or to impress others? To meet a standard? This distinction is important.
Find movement that you enjoy
Exercise is meant to be a celebration of what our bodies can do, not a punishment for consuming food/working off calories. If you are stuck, think back to when you were a child, what did you enjoy? Dance? Sports? Movement doesn’t have to be limited to going to a gym, have fun with it, be creative. The key with exercise is consistency, and if you enjoy it, you will be more likely to do it regularly.
Remember that social media isn’t reality
It’s not real. People choose what they post. People edit things ALL OF THE TIME. Please don’t compare your real, precious, beautiful life with what you see on a screen.
Pay attention to your self talk
This one may seem like a small tip, but it’s HUGE. The way that you speak to yourself matters… A LOT. Your body absorbs all of that & it absolutely makes a difference. If this seems really hard for you, start small. Start by saying ONE kind thing to yourself each day. You will never hate yourself into a version of
yourself that you love.
Reach out to a trusted friend to tell them what you are feeling about your body
We heal in community. Reach out to someone that you trust. Go out with them in a pair of shorts, or whatever it is you fear, tell them about it, and ask for their support.
Consider seeking professional help
Disordered eating and eating disorders are unfortunately becoming more and more prevalent. It’s okay if this is something you are struggling with and it’s okay to get help. You are not weak for needing help; you are strong for seeking it out.