With the summer months, we are once again greeted with that hallowed phrase, “Summer Body.” As jeans and jumpers are swapped out for skirts and strappy tops, the change in what we wear comes paired with the pressure to look ready for the coming season.
The pressure to have a bikini-ready body and be able to maintain it throughout the summer months is only heightened through the array of social media posts flaunting picture-perfect models in tiny bikinis. There is nothing like a good old social media post of Kendall Jenner in a bikini to make you feel good about yourself!
The summer season can often be a trigger for those who struggle with body image. Last-minute diets, calorie counting and extreme exercise routines are often people’s last-minute solutions when they deem themselves not ‘bikini ready’.
The message continually spread throughout summer is that if our bodies don’t look a certain way, they aren’t good enough. It is easier to hide behind baggy clothes in the cooler months but once temperatures rise, more skin exposes insecurities.
Amber shares her experience of the pressure to maintain a “summer body” on vacation:
“Being someone who continually struggles with their own body image, I feel the pressure to look picture perfect before I even board an aeroplane. But it is not simply about feeling confident in what I wear. It is the fear of reversing any progress I have made once I am on holiday.
“Watching what I will eat and drink, and making sure I work out every day are just a few of the restrictions I am internally placing upon myself. But all these anxieties are developed over a fake body image. No matter how desperately I want to obtain that body image and no matter how hard I try to make it a reality, I am just not built that way. But that’s okay.
“Even though it is extremely hard, I am reminding myself that it is better to be healthy and happy in my own skin, than restricting myself out of a desire to look like someone else. But I know that I am not alone in this.”
Marti discusses the pressure she has felt to look a certain way in summer clothing and how learning to make peace with her body has been an ongoing process:
“I remember being around 13 and seeing a photo of myself in shorts and wondering why nobody had told me how completely hideous I looked. For years later, I wouldn’t wear shorts in the summer, envying the girls with long slender legs that were never meant for my body.
“It’s taken a long time, but as I’ve entered my 20s, I’ve learned to accept my body. There are days that I love it, and other days that I find myself getting in a huff (normally while getting ready for events that should be fun) and wishing for a body that isn’t my own.
“Learning what clothes suit my figure has been a large step in increasing my confidence, as well as doing my best to maintain a balanced diet and exercise. Whilst calorie counting helped me lose a small amount of weight and learn how to create meals that are sustaining and nutritious, I’ve learned that it’s very difficult to attain a body that you aren’t built to have.”
There will always be fad diets that come and go- I like to think of them like different types of jeans. One month high-waisted jeans will be in, the next low-rise, and as soon as the latest hits the magazines, the last is forgotten about.
“Diets are so individual, and what works for one person won’t work for the next. Some people can eat well over the daily calorie recommendation and not gain weight, whilst others gain weight for a myriad of reasons, including genetics and metabolism.
“Food intolerances are another thing to take into consideration. We know that all hot girls have stomach issues, but it’s worth finding out whether bloating is a result of your body not being able to digest certain foods.
“At the end of the day, starving yourself into a smaller body won’t solve the way you think about yourself. Eating foods that nourish, sustain, and fuel you means that you feel better on the inside.
So whether you’re struggling with body image during the current heatwave or making progress on your summer body self-love story, remember that your body is there to help you do the things you enjoy. You won’t remember how much you weighed this summer when you’re 80, but hopefully you will remember the fun you were able to have whilst feeling energized and healthy.”