Now that Spring has sprung and the weather is supposedly getting warmer we often see people start to remark on how pretty everything is getting. We marvel at the beauty of nature. Yet, there is a very ugly side to this time of year too as we start to see an overriding shift in consciousnesses that we too must be getting ‘prettier.’
As people start to change to their Summer wardrobe and book their holidays, we see many people around us and across social media in particular post with self-loathing. From January 1st onwards (and sometimes before) we start being inundated with advertising all aimed at making us feel guilty and ashamed. How dare we have eaten so much yummy food over the Christmas holidays. That now we must repent for our sins and jump on every fad and unscientifically proven diet or detox going. Laxative tea, anyone?
We start to see slogans such as get ready for Summer and not in a buy your sunscreen kind of way but in a you need to change your appearance, and fast kind of way, bombarding us on every screen and in magazines. One slogan that made me quite enraged recently was Summer’s nearly here, how’s your body? In other words, Summer is coming are you slim and toned or at least on your way to getting there, are you the embodiment of what is known as a “Summer body” or a “bikini body.” And if you aren’t then you are such an embarrassment and should be ashamed of yourself because you simply must have a “Summer body” or not be seen in public if you do not. Oh, please! Eye roll alert.
But what is a Summer body? Is it like on the continent where every Winter they change their car tires over to winter tires?
A “Summer body” is merely a body in Summer, no matter what size. And a “bikini body’ is merely a body in a bikini. We live at a time when people with slim and toned bodies are called an inspiration for their beauty and toned bodies, looks are seen as superior to character, and yet on the inside, many of these so called perfect people are deeply unhappy and suffer from body dysmorphia and sadly sometimes eating disorders too. As the month’s progress towards Summer and people are on countdown to their holidays we see many people begin to comment, particularly on social media, things like:
“I can’t go on holiday looking like this.”
“I need to hit the gym.”
“I need to go on a diet/ detox”
Or read the comments on someone deemed to have a Summer/bikini body, particularly an influencer/ blogger/ celebrity and you will often see they are rife with compliments that are really just declarations of self-loathing and a lack of self-esteem. Some examples include:
“It’s not fair you have a figure like that and I look like a jellyfish.”
“Your body makes me feel guilty for eating pizza for dinner”
“What even is self-esteem?”
“You put the rest of us to shame.”
And most common:
“I need your body.”
But the truth is as much as you can change your bmi, weight or size you can’t have anyone else’s body only your own and all our bodies are different. Some people are blessed with great genes and fast metabolisms and the fitness bloggers that we see work out for a living and therefore have the time and money to invest in their fitness and nutrition. Whereas others might be on medication that causes them to gain weight or no matter what diet and exercise programme they try they will never be able to get down to a size 6. And depending on our body shape and height we all carry our weight differently. People that weigh the same can look so vastly opposing to one another.
And so for me personally seeing so much self-hatred and an overwhelming amount of “thinner is a winner” orientated advertising makes me so sad. It’s upsetting to see so many people consumed with hating themselves all because of a perceived ideal spread by the mainstream media and continued by social media. An ideal that simply does not even exist.
Let me be clear, this post is not about bashing anyone trying to lose weight or tone up it’s about knowing that you can change your body as much as you like (in a healthy as possible way) but unless you also change your mentality towards your body from self-loathing to one of self-love you’ll never be happy, regardless of your size. Body confidence is not restricted by your size. You can be thin and feel so uncomfortable with your body or curvy and be brimming with confidence, or vice vera.
I guess the moral of this post (and indeed many of my posts) is don’t forego your happiness or mental health. I saw a great quote recently that said don’t sacrifice a healthy mind for a perfect body and it’s true. Do not sacrifice making memories and having fun because you feel you don’t look a certain way. You do not have to look the way society enforces you to believe that you should. Beating yourself up for not fitting a stereotype that is far from representative of what normal bodies look like will only cause you to suffer. Remember that your weight, size, bmi, the fact that you have cellulite or stretch marks, bingo wings or a pot belly, none of these things exclude you from living your life or determine your right to have fun. Being fit won’t necessarily make you happy, being thin won’t necessarily mean you have a thigh gap, being curvy doesn’t mean you can’t wear a bikini or shorts. Life is precious so seize the day. Make memories.
Because at the end of the day how we looked will give us little comfort in our old age or indeed at any age. Wouldn’t it be far better to look back in later years, or even to reflect on a recent holiday and think “look at the fantastic memories I made” rather than “look how good I looked?” Do not be so consumed by how you look, or how you think you should look that you forget to live your life. You are worth more than that.
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