It’s that time of year again. The media pressure to work out and have the ‘ideal’ body has waned a bit since the New Year’s Resolutions campaign, but now it’s coming back in force as the weather warms up and we are all eager to get outside and enjoy the sunshine: “get your best bikini body yet!”, “are you ready to hit the beach?”, “three tips to lose weight FAST to fit into that tiny bikini!”. Then there’s the comparisons to celebrities who have the “perfect bikini body” and whose pictures are spread throughout the internet and in magazines as the “ideal role models” for how your body ‘should’ look this summer. Whoa. I’m exhausted even thinking about it. I can feel my chest start to tighten as I almost fall into that trap: “how will I EVER get my body to look like THAT??”.
Who said that anyone had to have a certain body appearance or type in order to wear a bikini? Where is the logic in that? It doesn’t make sense to me and it feels very shaming, judgmental, and narrow-minded. For those of us who embrace and love our bodies no matter what they look like (or are desiring to do so!), these messages can be very harming. Bikinis come in all shapes and sizes, just like our bodies do. And we all have a right to enjoy our bodies, whether in a bathing suit, a dress, a towel, a jumpsuit, a clown’s suit, or whatever we may choose! I’m of the belief that if we are able to physically put on a bathing suit, we are ‘bikini-ready’.
I found this great article on the Huffington Post that inspired this blog post which asked readers to submit photos of their own fabulous, REAL, bikini bodies! What I loved about it was the energy radiating from these women (no men included in this exercise, though I think that would be a GREAT idea, as men are subjected to media and social pressures as well).
These beautiful bikini babes were jumping around, swimming with fish, enjoying the sun, and even in one case, running through snow, all embracing their REAL, healthy bodies. I could just feel how happy they were, and even if some of them have had body image issues come up (which can happen no matter WHAT your body looks like), they were not allowing those to bulldoze their fun in the sun and water (or snow).
An important point: your body might naturally look a certain way — thin, heavier, whatever. It’s not what your body looks like that matters as much as how you feel in your body and the amount of joy, acceptance and satisfaction you are able to experience in your body. Exercising and eating foods that feel great to your body are certainly healthy practices, but we must remain present and balanced in these pursuits so as to not damage our self esteem and body image.
I wanted to offer some food for thought on this topic as we head into summer and are bombarded with messages that (mostly) tell us that our bodies are not good enough and that we need to change.
- Instead of giving energy to “what’s not right” or “what I need to change”, try to reframe and notice what you already, splendidly love about your body. We can lose awareness of our body and become disconnected, this giving way to letting the negative messages sway us. What does your body do every day that you admire? Which body part can you try to focus on and send love to for an entire day?
- Take a step back and notice the underlying forces in media messages. Most advertising has some subliminal message or force working for it — that may not have anything to do with what it’s showing you. The diet industry (as well as the junk food industry) makes BILLIONS OF DOLLARS off of telling us that we need to be perfect and offering us “solutions” that may damage us more than help us. Try to notice these marketing measures with a critical eye before you deem them true. Do they really have your best interest at heart? What will you sacrifice by doing what they tell you to do to “get that bikini body”?
- Team up! Chances are, you are not alone in feeling these pressures. Reach out to a friend who also might have some body image struggles and commit to embracing your bodies together. Harming social messages can influence us sneakily, silently, and powerfully – so our response must be proactive, loud, and communal! If you show others that you can enjoy and empower your real, beautiful bikini body, you will also empower them to do the same.
If you are looking for support in embracing your beautiful, awesome, real bikini body or in accepting yourself in any other way, please feel free to contact me for a complimentary consultation. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 720-340-1443.
Forward on to enjoying the sun, the beach, food, friends, and OURSELVES!