TW: Eating Disorders
The sun is out, and the sky is blue. With the warm weather fast approaching and holidays being booked, so too comes the bombardment of societal pressure to act a certain way now in order to look a certain way later. I’m talking about the dreaded beach body. Surely there’s nothing wrong with wanting to cut a few pounds for the summer – or is there? Making your health a priority is great, but forcing yourself to look a certain, unrealistic ‘beach body’ way certainly isn’t.
Many companies’ preys on the insecurities of others by trying to sell beach body programs and diet supplements in order to make profits coming up to the summer months – but I’m here to tell you that everybody is a beach body!
Diet culture is (ironically) not a pretty sight. It comes with the shaming of natural and realistic bodies and the normalisation of extremely unhealthy eating habits. The worst part is that the perception of the ‘beach body’ is often highly unrealistic. This unattainable beauty standard is only perpetuated further when more and more influencers attempt to photoshop Instagram posts and manipulate you into buying their ‘slimming’ teas and supplements. Many people suffer Body Dysmorphic Disorder–where you become fixated on the minor flaws in your appearance which are commonly unnoticed by others–with nearly 1 in 2 women report feeling more unhappy with their appearance during and after the pandemic. Many are unaware that negative body images and low self-esteem lead to so many more negative outcomes such as depression, eating disorders, loss of sex drive, stress, and social isolation. Shockingly, 50% of 13-year-old American girls have also reported being unhappy with their bodies which grew to 80% when they reached the age of 17.
Although diet culture and the ‘beach body’ trend are not all to be blamed, they are a large factor that the media perpetuates when promoting unrealistic body ideals for all genders. It was not long ago in 2015 when Protein World released their highly controversial ‘Are You Beach Body Ready?’ advert paired with an image of a slim model wearing a bikini paraded along the London Underground – a perfect representation of the toxic commodification of female bodies.
The truth is, we are all beach body ready. We all go to the beach; we all have bodies. No one should feel like they have to look a certain way in order to appeal to a toxic societal expectation that feeds into an unhealthy culture of dieting and generally feeling bad about ourselves for no good reason. Be healthy because you want to be healthy, gain or lose a few pounds for your general health, start weight training or do absolutely nothing at all, you are perfect the way you are, and no one can tell you otherwise! Feeling comfortable in a bikini doesn’t mean you have to have chiselled abs and a perfect tan line. Your body is not a commodity!
If you need any assistance with eating disorders and would like to seek help, the charity, MIND, has a useful page on how and where to find support.