With summer upon us and the 21st of June looming it’s easy to get caught up in the summer body rhetoric. The thing to remember is, our bodies got us through a global pandemic, and every body is ready for summer. The last year has been really tough for all of us and we shouldn’t be punishing our bodies for adapting to the stress and lifestyle changes that lockdown created. However, this is easier said than done.
Every summer I tell myself I won’t get lured in by diet culture or my Instagram explore page full of fitness influencers. This year in particular, accepting body changes as a product of the pandemic has made this a bigger challenge. A recent study by researchers at Anglia Ruskin University found that anxiety and stress as a result of COVID-19 are related to increased body dissatisfaction and a greater desire for thinness among women. Although it may not be the most obvious consequence of the pandemic, it’s apparent that many are struggling with self-esteem and post-lockdown body changes. Determined to leave low body confidence in lockdown, I’d like to share a few things that have helped me embrace body changes and may help you too.
Embracing Post-Lockdown Life
If the pandemic has taught me anything it’s to embrace all opportunities and live life to the full whilst we have the chance. It might be tempting to say no to beach trips or plans that involve wearing real clothes but remember that we haven’t been able to socialise in so long, so every moment spent with family and friends is so precious. Our friends are going to be so happy to see us that they would never notice a few extra pounds, just as the first thing you notice about them wouldn’t be their body.
Diversifying Your Instagram Feed
One thing that I’ve found really helpful is diversifying the body shapes on my Instagram feed. By unfollowing a fair few super-slim influencers, in favour of accounts that celebrate body positivity and appreciate the difference a good angle makes, it really helped me be surrounded with bodies more similar to my own. Two of my personal favourite accounts at the moment are ‘make_love_not_diets’ and ‘em_clarkson’. Both of them are great for encouraging the celebration of our bodies, accepting changes and demonstrating how angles, lighting, stress and hormones can cause such fluctuation in our bodies appearance. I’ve still got a long way to go in diversifying my feed further and rebelling against the diet culture that infests social media but making a few changes and following some new accounts has really enabled me to appreciate that every body deserves to be celebrated.
Shopping for Clothes that Make You Feel Good
We’ve all been living in joggers, jumpers and loungewear for a while now and the idea of putting on any kind of figure-hugging attire or dusting off the shorts for summer may seem a daunting prospect. A wardrobe clear out is a great way to get rid of those jeans you’ve been saying you’ll fit into for the last three years and swap them with some new comfy clothes, that make you feel confident. Of course, make sure you sell clothes on or take them to a charity shop or a clothes bank rather than throwing them away. It’s amazing how a few new staples can diversify your wardrobe; I know when I cleared out some old clothes to make way for new I couldn’t wait for the pubs to open so I had somewhere to wear them!
Overall, the concept of the summer body and #hotgirlsummer are particularly damaging at the moment and fuel the insecurities that many are feeling coming out of lockdown. The societal pressure and idea that everyone needs to lose weight in order to be eligible to enjoy summer is really problematic and changing the narrative is important. Every body is worth celebrating and every body is ready for summer. So let’s enjoy good food, drink, sunshine and self-worth with family and friends this year. We are all worthy.
Words by: Asha Hipperson
Edited by: Yasmine Moro Virion