Every year, the promise of warmer weather and no school always gets everyone excited for the summer months. However, warmer weather can also be some of the hardest times for some people. When it is too hot to wear clothes with more coverage, it can make people feel insecure and uncomfortable. This brings up the fact that during summer months, society markets the “summer body” or “bikini body”.
The term “bikini body” was first used by a weight-loss ad in 1961. This campaign marketed machines that claimed to shake fat off, or push other unreliable fads. The term took a couple of decades to take, but then weight loss campaigns and companies started using it more regularly. The weight-loss industry thrives off of insecurities and high standards that society places on people, especially women. This term is toxic because it pushes women to strive for almost unreachable expectations, and distorts the image of a healthy and beautiful body. The reality is: Every body is a summer body – every shape, size, and shade.
This issue is not only a women’s issue. Men also suffer from insecurities about their bodies and their body image. The body positivity movement is for everyone. Social media has been taken over by body positivity activists and supporters. Using their platform, activists have been able to help others with body image issues, and question why the standards are the way they are today. Why are thin, able bodies the only ones we praise? Is this a feasible expectation to hold to ourselves and others?
Especially because of the pandemic, a lot of negative thoughts and posts have been circulating around social media. People are worried that they have gained weight during the pandemic and about how their “summer body” will look. Gaining weight during something as stressful as a pandemic is not an ‘oh no’ moment. Gaining and losing weight (in a healthy way) is a part of life. No one stays the same size all of their lives, and it is time to get rid of the idea that we need to be thin all of the time. Thin does not always mean healthy. Our bodies need nutrients and fuel to perform all of the functions to keep us alive.
Off of social media, it may be harder to be more comfortable with your body. Working towards body confidence is a difficult process. There are always things about our bodies that we wish we could change. However, lingering on these thoughts won’t make us feel any better. Here are a couple of things to think about and do when your body image is low:
1. Think about all the things your body can do. Can you lift really heavy things? Are you a fast runner? Are you flexible? Can you kick a soccer ball into a net or shoot a basket in basketball?
2. Think about three things you like about your body. Do you have a nice smile? Do you like your haircut? Do you have long legs?
3. Eat good foods. Fueling your body with nutrients helps you feel your best and keep things moving efficiently. Some examples of healthy, nutrient-rich foods are fruits, vegetables, nuts, and lean meats.
4. Get enough sleep. Your body needs to rest and prepare for each day with an adequate amount of sleep. Adults (18 and up) are recommended on getting 7 or more hours of sleep each night. Try to avoid being on your phone or any device 30 minutes before you go to bed, to keep the blue light from interfering with your sleep schedule.
5. Keep your body clean and groomed. Taking the time each day to brush your teeth and wash your face is a great, easy way to feel happy about the way you look.
6. Be mindful of the social media you consume. Social media is known for projecting unhealthy eating habits and diets in an effort to get thinner. Make sure that the celebrities and people you follow don’t fill your feed with unhealthy mindsets and goals.
7. Talk to a parent or a trusted adult. No one can handle everything by themselves. If you have been struggling with your body image, it might be a good idea to look for outside help. You could brainstorm more specific ways to become happier with your body.
Body positivity is the idea that people have positive body image, regardless of how society perceives certain body types and deems them popular or not. Body positivity is a mindset, which can help combat unrealistic standards for ourselves. Your comfort with your body should not be measured by society’s praise – it should be from within yourself. Working on your self-image can help prevent your happiness with your body from depending on the whims of society as a whole.
Whether or not you are getting ready to spend more time outside, it is important to remember there is no “perfect” body. Despite what the media pushes on us, our own bodies are built to do their jobs, and they do that well. Staying positive about our body image is not always a given, but fighting the almost impossible beauty standards will make it easier to accept yourself. Working out and counting calories for the sole purpose of losing weight to “look better” isn’t worth the pain and self-doubt. So enjoy your summer, and every other month of the year, in your own body.
This article was written by Maalí. She is a student at UNR and is a student ambassador for High Sierra AHEC.