It’s official: summer is right around the corner. It is the season of wearing bikinis and showing some skin. But that simple clothing change can make lots of girls feel insecure. Society pressures us towards the perfect “bikini body”, and that is really overwhelming, whether you fit the beauty patterns or not.
In this article, three girls told Her Campus Cásper Líbero about their body insecurities and how they managed to overcome them – well, it is an endless process, but anyway.
IZABEL GIMENEZ, 22
Bel, as she likes being called, has always been a fat girl, but only recently she was able to say it out loud. She is naturally communicative, but when adolescence began and she started to discover herself as a woman, she became more self-conscious and insecure.
Being fat was not a normal subject in her life – all the fat women she knew were trying to lose weight. So, when boys didn’t want to date her or people didn’t want to get closer to her, she thought she was the problem.
When Bel went to Germany for exchange school, she slowly tried to show more skin, instead of hiding, as she was used to do. She used to think that, in the worst case scenario, she wouldn’t need to see those people again. It helped her to feel freer, but then, when she came back to Brazil, it got hard again. On her junior year of college, she wouldn’t speak to anyone, and she even got involved on an abusive relationship.
But, one step at a time, she decided to challenge herself. Bel bought a cropped top and started wearing it at home, and when she felt comfortable, she went out with it. She made a friend and they talked about their bodies. Until one night, at a party, Bel was able to take off her shirt. “I felt powerful”, she tells.
In 2020, the pandemic of COVID-19 came and she decided to do something useful from it. Bel created her Instagram account, @belsempadrao, where, at first, she would talk about makeup and relationships. “But then I realized that, no matter what I talked about, my body would always speak first”, she recalls. That’s how she started using her Instagram as a place to talk about body positivity. Today, Bel has over 25 thousand followers, who are her support group and help her feel much more comfortable in her own body.
Bel’s advice: “If you don’t have a support group, create a virtual one. Follow influencers that look like you and have a life that is similar to yours. You will never love yourself if you don’t look at other people that don’t look like you. This loving relationship with ourselves must be built, just like a friendship. Look at yourself in the mirror, try to compliment yourself, see the possibilities. It is a hard process; you didn’t build a negative idea of yourself in one day. Social media can be toxic, but it can be healthy if you make it so. You need to educate your algorithm. We think that the internet controls us, but we control the internet. The unfollow button is there.”
CAROLINA OLIVEIRA, 18
Despite of always being thin, Carol had issues trying to fit unreachable beauty patterns. Everybody at home has always been thin and healthy, but, when she became a teenager, she started to worry too much about her weight. At the time, her mental health wasn’t good, she couldn’t fit in school and her life seemed to be a mess. Carol lost a lot of weight and was not healthy.
Things only started to get better when she focused on her health, rather than her image. Her mental health improved, and Carol made new friends and started dating. Besides, she could finally become a vegetarian – she wanted to be one for a long time in order to help the environment, but her parents thought she would lose too much weight and be unhealthy. However, once she began to follow the diet she wanted, her relationship with food improved. She also started going to the gym and prepping her own food – in other words, taking care of her health above beauty patterns.
Carol’s advice: “It may sound cliché, but what helped me was thinking about my health instead of patterns. Taking care of your body is a nice thing. I also think everybody should go to therapy or talk to someone, even with your parents. I think these insecurities can lead to something much worse. Find a diet that suits you, prep your own food, exercise, improve your relationship with food and prioritize your mental health.”
LÍVIA DOS SANTOS, 19
Lívia’s biggest insecurity is acne, but she’s also had a hard time accepting her body. She’s always compared herself to other girls too much, leading her to feel she wasn’t enough. Her family’s pressure towards her body was another insecurity factor, and used to make her wonder if she looked okay in a certain outfit or if she had too much cellulite.
When Lívia was studying to apply to university, stress made her acne get worse. Her face was covered by spots and scars, and that had a big impact on her self-esteem. So she went to the doctor and started a hormonal treatment, which helped with her acne and made her feel better.
As for her body, nowadays Lívia has changed her mindset and tries to compliment herself every time she looks good, reminding herself that having a different body wouldn’t make her happier.
Lívia’s advice: “Dealing with this is very personal, but I believe that the best way to do it is looking for help. Also, it is crucial to know that everybody has insecurities, maybe towards something you find beautiful or can’t even notice. And, sometimes, people might even compare themselves to you, despite all the insecurities you may have. Society brings us unreachable patterns, but truth is, people are not going to dislike you because of how you look.”
Hopefully, these three stories have inspired you to start your own self-love journey. Remember to be extra careful with both your physical and mental health, and enjoy summer with the best body you could have – your own!