What a relief to finally be experiencing sunshine and warm weather. Winter is so last season.
The long winter has left me especially appreciative of spring and summer, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still have hesitant feelings. Times for shorts, tank tops and swimsuits aren’t carefree for everybody, myself included.
Summer is a true test for our body image when we no longer have layers to use as makeshift security blankets. I know I’ve probably missed out some summer memories because my own fears and anxieties would hold me back. There are seasons for our self-esteem, just like nature, and summer body image isn’t easy. So how can we overcome the obstacles in our path and really enjoy a few months of sunshine? Take the tips I offer as a jumping point for your own journey of self-discovery and acceptance. Who knows what summer might bring?
Wear what you love.
There are countless magazine and online guides for what’s “in,” what’s not, what certain body shapes should wear and avoid…a constant stream of advice that sounds like everyone talking at once.
For your summer body image, I challenge you to judge those fashionistas with a grain of salt. Maybe you’ll take their advice in what they suggest, but that doesn’t mean you can’t wear certain clothing over others. Wear those favorite pair of shorts, that t-shirt, that one dress you were saving for some special occasion…what’s holding you back?
Well, a lot of things, probably. Go through what you already own in your closet. It’s time to be brutal. If something doesn’t fit you, it makes you feel guilty, or any other negative emotion, donate it. Clothing and fashion should be fun, regardless of what number is on the tag. You are so much more than that. Don’t let a piece of fabric dictate your self-worth. Yes, easier said than done, but take yourself away from the emotional attachment you might have with summer clothing and realize that you are you, regardless of what you wear.
The whole point of clothing should be expressing your creativity and boosting your self-confidence. There are likely parts of your body you’re not a fan of, but what do you like? Flaunt what you have. Celebrate your beauty. Confidence looks good on everyone.
Take small steps, at your own pace.
Maybe you aren’t ready to go swimsuit shopping, and that’s okay. Maybe you aspire to someday rock a bikini, but you don’t feel comfortable with that right now. That’s okay, too. There’s no right or wrong way to approach self-acceptance. Just as we cannot judge one another’s bodies and make comparisons, the same goes for our personal journeys.
Don’t expect yourself to overnight love every inch of yourself. Heck, every day you might look at yourself differently, loving yourself one day only to despise your body the next. It can feel like a roller coaster, but it’s all a part of the process.
Here’s an example from my own journey: for many summers, I avoided wearing shorts like the plague. I’ve always struggled with how my legs look, the space between them, how “big” they feel, how others see them. I would always stick to wearing capris, leggings, even full-on pants over wearing shorts.
I don’t know what inkling inside me changed, but one day after I was particularly hot, I pulled on a pair of shorts from my dresser. I forgot what it felt like to feel some air on your legs and not overheat. And I wasn’t immediately consumed with worries and doubts. I just wore the shorts, and from then on, I got some more cute, comfy pairs. Start with one fear or clothing piece that makes you antsy, and slowly acquaint yourself with it and see where your feelings and acceptance lead you.
What “summer body”?
We’re bombarded with all the latest diets and workout routines to achieve an “ideal summer body.” We want to look our absolute best before sporting the summer fashions, before showing off more skin than usual. There’s no shame in using warmer weather and more free time to prioritize your physical health, but don’t sacrifice your mental health to reach your goals.
First off, any body in a bikini is a “bikini body.” Any body in the summer is a “summer body.” Regardless of how you look, you can wear what you want, even if you don’t look like the model in the store or on the website.
If you do want to pursue a fitness or nutrition goal, be realistic, and don’t let that goal run your life. Especially if you have any past with disordered or addictive behaviors around exercise and food, you know your own limits and triggers. Take care of yourself. Our bodies are valuable gifts to us, and they are capable of so much. We cannot afford to forget how precious they and our overall health are.
I suggest, if you’re going to work toward a physical health goal, balance it out with another goal that isn’t related to your body and appearance. Try meditating every day, or waking up early, or starting a new hobby, or seeing a friend every week. Summer is an opportunity for addressing your body image and getting healthier, but it’s also an opportunity to devote time to serious self-care and pursuing goals just for you and your own self-improvement.
I can dispel all the advice I can, but it’s ultimately your personal decision to address your summer body image. Really face that perception in the mirror and figure out where you stand and how you feel. Take this post as a reminder that regardless what time of year it is, you are worthy of self-love, self-care, and self-acceptance.
Whatever you want to wear, you’re beautiful. That beauty doesn’t come from your body, but from your spirit. People recognize you for your personality, not what clothes you own or what size they are or how your arms or legs or stomach look. Find freedom in this truth, and you’ll find the freedom of summer much more enjoyable.
How do you feel about your body in the summer? What helps you overcome “bikini body” pressures?
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie