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Lets Talk… Body Image & Glowing Up – Hot Girl Summer Edition

As we begin to ease out of lockdown in the U.K. by June 21st, many people are panicking because they don’t have their ‘summer bodies’ ready for hot girl summer. If this is or was you, I am not shaming you for that thought process, but it is ingrained in us that we have to be skinny and that body image is more important than anything else, even at the expense of our health. What needs to stop is the promotion of toxic diet culture as it leads to these intrusive thoughts. We need to stop this idea that being skinny is ‘perfect’ and obsessing over an ideal body shape because this can lead to body dysmorphia and severe health conditions.  
When we talk about body image, we think you how we feel about ourselves physically and think about how other people see us. Body image is not just about weight; it can also be:  

  • Comparing how you look with friends or people you follow on social media 
  • Struggling to love and accept your body 
  • Feeling as though your body shape is not represented in the media 
  • Hiding your body because you feel ashamed by it 
  • Struggling to find clothes for your body, particularly if you have a physical disability 
  • Feeling like you are not attractive enough.

The trend of glowing up has been popular on social media since we first entered lockdown last year and has become a part of our vocabulary as if it has become a priority to most of us. Our obsession with glowing up has become a race to get fit by the end of lockdown. Many of us have been through it all this last year from suffering from mental health, grief, loss and isolation, and yet influencers are telling us to sign up for their fitness plans like never before. Not only does this feed fatphobia, but this discussion of weight loss can lead to relapses in eating disorders.  

The idea of body image can be dangerous for us, and the beauty industry pressuring us into making us want to be ‘prettier’ doesn’t help. There are many problems with this glow up culture that may be rooted in the pressure for us to conform to society’s unrealistic beauty standards, which usually requires us to be ‘visually pleasing’. Ultimately, we often see models and celebrities online who go to extreme lengths to look ‘prettier’ by getting Botox, fillers or undergoing artificial processes. As social media consumers, we are bombarded with these images and ‘new standards’ that we feel like we have to live up to. This perpetuates the narrative that if you haven’t lost weight, improved your skin or changed your makeup game, you’re a failure.  

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with wanting to glow up for the summer – after all, it is meant to be the best summer we have had in a long time, but don’t let ‘being skinny’ or being ‘prettier’ consume you. Glowing up is great if you do it for the right reasons, like becoming healthier, more confident or happier overall. Glowing up doesn’t have to be a physical change; it can be a variety of changes in your life, such as cutting toxic people out or stepping out of your comfort zone and doing something you have never done before. No matter how you choose to glow up this summer, remember that you are beautiful the way that you are.

Hi, I'm Elina and I'm a Third Year Media Studies student. Alongside being a photographer, I am passionate about art, feminism, travel and mental health.
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