SUMMER Bodies! I have a secret for you...
Hot tips, PRO Tips and Myth Busters!
Hot tip: you already have a summer body! It’s now summer, you have a body, done – SUMMER BODY!
Let’s get another one of these out of the way: If you're wearing a bikini on your body, then you already have a bikini body. Yes, you guessed it, the same goes for the beach body. Take your body to the beach and ta-dah, you have a beach body.
We just welcomed summer and with this season comes thoughts of beaches, swimsuits, BBQ’s and body image. This is normal to think of these things but the idea of pressuring oneself to look a certain way for a certain season and that certain season alone is ridiculous and not fair to yourself.
I propose we ditch the term summer bodies and bikini bodies altogether! How about we acknowledge our bodies as bodies no matter what time of year. Simple. This is my body. Done. We don’t need the labels and pressure. How about instead we invite in all seasons with our body as it is at the time of the season? I’m going to call it, let’s make that happen!
I googled summer body and 3,550,000,000 results appeared. Shocking, or is it? The dominant culture of the diet industry is powerful and promotes this ideal standard of beauty that is simply a myth and quite problematic. This idea of a thin ideal can cause women to compare themselves to this expectation and lead to feelings that they don’t measure up. Some studies suggest that women who over-internalize the thin-ideal image experience increased body dissatisfaction, decrease in self-esteem and develop eating disorders.
When it comes to the impact on women’s self-esteem, we don’t need anyone telling us what kind of body to have. It’s time to reclaim our bodies as our own. The dictation of “achieving” summer bodies and bikini bodies is now out! I’d like to introduce my pro tips of 5 ways to focus on taking care of yourself this summer (and all year long) instead of working on a “seasonal body”. Shifting your mindset from changing your body to focusing on how you want it to feel can be a powerful step to building body confidence.
5 ways to Move Towards Body Acceptance
1. Find joy in the movement you choose. It’s key to liking what you choose for movement and physical activity. You don’t have to love it but explore enough options to find something that you look forward to and enjoy. Try finding an environment you feel welcomed in and Surround yourself with people that support your true self.
2. Listen and respond to body signals. Tuning into your body and the sensations that it offers you is one of the best ways to ensure you are giving it what it needs and wants. Hunger, pain, thirst, sleepy, etc. being able to recognize and in turn act on these helps you to live in a way that you honor your body instead of ignoring it.
3. Have fun no matter the season. Do the thing! A lot of people are waiting. Waiting until they are a certain size, weight, etc. before they sign up for the thing, do the thing or fill in your blank here. Go, have fun, see what happens! Your value is not dictated by your body, shape or weight, never has been and never will be so don’t let it be the thing to hold you back.
4. Eating is more than fuel. Food is fuel yes but it’s also pleasure, nutrition a form of celebration, nourishment, an important part of the culture, and fun. Explore all aspects of food and try mindfully enjoying food.
5. Gratitude Attitude. Practicing gratitude for what your body does for you, and what it has done for you to get you where you are in life is a positive way to enforce self-love. Recognize your body’s strengths, qualities and abilities and regularly practice gratitude for these things.
Building body confidence and letting go of terms and ideas like "Summer body" and the popular "New Year, New You", is not easy. They are part of our society and we have been sold by the 70-billion-dollar diet industry that we need to look and be a certain way. We don’t. Be you. You are great just the way you are.
Finally, it’s important to acknowledge that I do benefit from thin privilege. Fat discrimination is real, and living in a body that isn’t the “thin ideal” and not accepted by some makes some of my above ideas hard to adopt or even consider. My thought is that you are the boss of your body, you get to choose what you do and don’t do with it. That includes deciding to change it or not.
If you do decide to change your body, I offer you this brief self-reflection exercise:
Why are you attempting to change your body? Is it coming from a place of love or hate, compassion or shame or confidence or doubt?
Who benefits from the diet or program you might be buying into?
What sacrifices or lifestyle changes will you make? How will this impact you and those around you?
Is there another way you can take care of your body that would support your health or the goals that you have?
This summer and all seasons, I invite you to consider the idea and belief that your body is great as it is right now.
Author note: It’s important to note I am speaking about my personal experiences. I’d like to also recognize my privileges. I identify as cisgender, able-bodied, I was raised middle class, I am college educated, I have thin privilege, have access to health care and insurance, I am in a straight passing relationship and I benefit from being identified as being white.
The articles and information on this website/ in this article are solely based on the author's personal experience and opinion. They are not intended as treatment or advice for an eating disorder or any other health condition.
If you are struggling with disordered eating behaviors or believe your health to be in danger, please call a licensed mental health professional or physician as soon as possible.
Support resource: NEDIC (National Eating Disorder Information Center)
“We believe that through open, supportive dialogue, we can help break the shame, stigma and silence that affect nearly 1 million Canadians living with a diagnosable disorder – and the millions of others who are struggling with food and weight preoccupation.” Covid-19 Update-Instant chat is available from 9 am to 9 pm Monday-Thursday and Friday 9 am – 5 pm. Emails will be answered during those hours.
The NEDIC helpline (1-866-NEDIC-20) and 416-340-4156) will be open from 11 am to 7 pm Monday – Thursday and Friday 11 am – 5 pm. All times EST.
Doris Ward is a nationally recognized Mind-Body Fitness Coach and body-positive ally. Ward founded her Body Image workshops dedicated to supporting others to work towards body acceptance through the mind-body connection. She leads specialized yoga classes to guide others to show kindness and compassion to their bodies while exploring mindful movement. She is a regular contributor with published content on body image in the national wellness magazine Optimyz and on optimyz.com
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