This article was written by our summer writing intern, Kate.
While summer brings with it the undoubted bonuses of warm weather, more free time, and lots of amazing fruits and vegetables finally coming in season, it also heralds the anxiety-inducing time known as “bikini season”. Simply googling the words “bikini body” will retrieve nearly 700 million sites offering workouts, diets, and books professing to help you achieve that ideal body plastered on magazines, advertisements, and, nowadays, seemingly everywhere on Instagram.
When we’re bombarded with photos of women with perfectly sculpted six-packs or inexplicably flat stomachs, it can become more than a little difficult to fling off your own shirt without self-consciousness. So how can you stop the swimsuit stigma from putting a damper on your long-awaited summer fun?
Cut back on social media.
It’s surprisingly hard to kick the urge to scroll through Instagram and Facebook zooming in all your perfect friends’ feeds. No matter how many times it leaves me feeling dissatisfied and inadequate, I can’t seem to quell the urge to come back for more. If you find yourself addicted to social media, or even just spending a little more time on it than you’d like, maybe try deleting the apps from your phone. Or try apps like Moment or BreakFree that’ll help wean you off your phone altogether. Because trust me, even if it seems fun in the moment, stalking your “perfect” friend’s feed won’t make you any happier – just the opposite.
Whenever I’ve felt insecure about my own body in a swimsuit, it’s almost always some photo of a body I envied that swims to the front of my mind. We all try to project the most appealing image of ourselves on social media, so it can be easy to get lost in a sea of envy and insecurity that really isn’t reflective of reality. Social media can be fun, but it can be pretty damaging too. Know when to draw the line: if it’s not making you happy, walk away.
Get involved in a fun and rewarding physical activity.
This one is a complicated one. I’ve seen people spend hours at the gym desperately seeking that perfect “beach bod” only to be left dissatisfied at the lack of results. And that’s the most probable result – if your mental dialogue is founded on negativity and self-hate, you’re never going to achieve satisfaction no matter how many reps you do at the gym. Instead, get involved with a sport you truly love or a fun pastime that keeps you active, and your self-love will skyrocket.
Not only will you enjoy the numerous benefits of exercise (mood boosts, improvements to brain health and memory, and better sleep, to name a few), you’ll start to appreciate your body in a much deeper sense than in terms of its adherence to any ridiculous beauty standards. Working hard and improving in a sport makes you feel strong; it fills you with a sense of power and pride that no amount of “bikini body” could ever match.
Take the focus off appearance.
The amount of importance we place on appearance these days, especially for girls, is pretty insane. No one has any say in the features they were born with, and the aspects we praise and even worship people for are usually the results of a random gene pool more than anything else. Yet we act as if being physically attractive is some sort of enormous achievement to be applauded, as if adherence to beauty standards is a virtue to be prioritized even over attributes such as kindness and sense of humor.
Your worth has nothing to do with your appearance. And it’s appalling how hard of a message this is to ingrain. Before you focus on the physical, look to better yourself as a person. Stretch your mind by learning new things, face a fear you’ve always had, or work on your relationships with family and friends. Seek a self-confidence founded on who you are at your core. It will be far steadier and glow far brighter than any amount of pride founded on the way you look.
Pick a suit that makes you feel comfortable.
The idea that a woman should be restricted in terms of what she can and can’t wear because of her body type is ridiculous. Regardless of whether your body looks exactly like the photos of models or celebrities, you have a bikini body because you have a body.
No one should regulate what you can wear or feel confident in, and certainly not on the basis of some arbitrary beauty standards. Choose a swimsuit that makes you genuinely happy, and choose it for yourself, not for anyone else.
Tell a friend.
Sometimes the best way to convince yourself of your own worth is to encourage someone else. If a friend mentions feeling inadequate about their lack of a “bikini body,” talk to them. This whole bikini body craze is incredibly misogynistic and in need of a serious check in importance in society.
It stems from the same school of thought that has kept women out of positions of power for so long and put grossly offensive ads in papers: the idea that a woman’s value lies in the sum of her body parts. What an incredibly damaging idea, for someone’s worth to be confined not to the way they act or the way they make people feel, but to the way they look. Reject this. Tell your friend, tell a stranger, tell yourself: you are so much more than your body. You are beautiful, not just in your face or your body, but in your soul.
How do you stay confident in the summer? Comment below!
If you liked this article, you might also like:
- Self-Love Isn’t Found In Lost Pounds
- Social Media: The Highlight Reel
- My Definition of Beauty
- More Than Likes and Followers: The Pressure of Social Media
Feature Image Credit: Pete Johnson via Pexels.com