The Perfect Beach Body: 5 Thoughts on Letting it Go
Updated: Apr 29, 2021
Now that spring is here and summer is upon us there’s much to look forward to. A relaxed schedule, vacations, and sunny days spent outside. What’s not to love, right?
Well, for those who know what it feels like to dread lighter clothing and swimsuits, the warmer weather also heightens body image concerns.
The pressure to achieve a perfect beach body is in full force. Commercials and advertisements bombard you with new diets and workout plans promising quick results to tone up before heading to the beach.
Your summer can easily be stolen if you’re preoccupied with picking your body apart and wishing you were thinner or more toned. Instead of letting this season of sunshine pass by, you can choose to make this summer a positive experience!
5 Thoughts to Consider if You Want to Let Go of the Perfect Beach Body and Enjoy Summer!
1. What Is a Summer Body? A Trend Rooted in Diet Culture
A “summer body” is a popular phrase referring to what your body looks like when you’re sporting a swimsuit or lounging at a pool party. The connotation is that your body should be in “acceptable shape” come summertime.
Getting your “summer body ready” by attempting to quickly change your physique using extreme measures isn’t only harmful, but absolutely absurd when you learn why our society is consumed by it.
The truth about the widespread concept of a “summer body”:
Invented in the 1960s, originally termed “bikini body” to market a new weight loss company.
Used by magazines to help marketers increase sales.
Hairstyles, beauty products, and stylish outfits were popular magazine topics, but the “summer beach body” was a priority once summer hit.
Magazines took advantage of women’s insecurities expectedly rising in the summer.
Attention was geared toward constantly placing thin and fit bikini bodies on magazine covers to easily sell products.
The goal has always been to persuade us into believing our worth lies in our appearance alone... all for the $60 billion diet industry to cash in more money.
Let’s stand up to diet culture and walk away from falling prey to these marketing schemes!
2. Shorts, Tank tops, and Swimsuits
We’re now saying goodbye to heavy jackets and comfy sweatpants and it can be intimidating to pull your shorts, swimsuits, and tank tops up to the front of your closet.
When you’re self-conscious about your body, the last thing you want to do is wear clothes that reveal your insecurities.
I don’t want people to see my arms, they’re too big and flabby.
My cellulite is noticeable if I wear shorts, people will judge me.
I can’t wear a swimsuit, my body isn’t in shape.
If you over-focus on your “flaws” and why your body’s not “good enough,” you will fall down the slippery slope of body judgement and unhelpful comparison.
Your mind gets stuck in a rut assuming an “ideal” body is necessary for having fun in the sun. Recognize and notice that there’s people of all shapes and sizes wearing all sorts of summer attire!
3. Tips for Handling Summer Clothes
Challenging fears based around summer clothes is a work in progress. You won’t go from avoiding the clothes you feel self-conscious in to totally rocking it all over night. THAT’S OKAY.
Remember that you’re allowed to take baby steps. You’re not a failure at recovery if you need to slowly incorporate your feared clothing into your life.
A light flannel is an easy addition to wrap around your waist if you’re not super comfortable showing your legs. It can help you keep your mind off of your body and present in the moment while still taking on a challenge!
To get used to wearing a swimsuit, throw shorts on over it or wear a coverup if you're lounging for the time being. Be proud of yourself for putting a swimsuit on and going to the pool party in the first place!
It’s okay to not love wearing summer attire. Most people don’t jump for the opportunity to put on a swimsuit - honestly, swimsuits can feel exposing and uncomfortable at times for most of us.
What matters is choosing to participate in life even if shorts, swimsuits, or tank tops aren’t your first choice.
You don’t want to miss out on the good things in life because you couldn’t stop thinking about your cellulite. Do what works for you that’ll get you where you want to be!
4. Your Greatest Source of Value Is Not Your Body
Will obsessing about your looks make your summer any better? You’ll ultimately be missing out on what you value most in life!
Investing your energy into the people around you, the experiences you’re having, and the beautiful sunshine far outweighs your body or a piece of clothing ruining your summer.
Genuine people that care about you don’t judge your body at all. Your family and friends just want to be with YOU, not your body!
Odds are that no one is thinking twice about your arms or thighs. Too many people have concerns of their own.
If someone had toned muscles, but wasn't kind and loving, would you still want to hangout with them? Probably not.
Be present in the moment and live your life! Worrying about how you look is a distraction you don’t need. Create amazing experiences and memories this summer instead of worrying about your appearance.
5. Summer Bodies? No. Year-Round Bodies? Yes!
It’s tempting to fall back into old habits or chase a new solution just because a season calls for it. Remember why this phenomenon came about? Marketing!
Dieting and overexercising comes at an expense. It’s helpful to look at the bigger picture and ask yourself, Is chasing an unrealistic and temporary solution to try and feel better during the summer months going to benefit me long term?
Your body is inevitably going to change, it’s a part of life. The damage brought on from striving for the perfect beach body is NOT worth it.
Your summer body is also your winter, fall, and spring body AND it’s the body you have when there’s zero dieting or overexercising forced on it. Your body deserves respect and care 365 days of the year!
Focus on treating your body kindly, working with your body, listening and responding to what it needs physically and mentally. Our bodies thrive on balance, not extremes.
Doing some work around body acceptance is key. You may not ever love your body, but you can get to a place of appreciation and self-care with compassion.
The perfect beach body is NOT a prerequisite for a wonderful summer!
Support Is Available for You!
As a registered dietitian skilled in eating disorders and disordered eating, I’m here to help you as you navigate through summer. If you are struggling, reach out for some extra support!