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The “Bikini Body”: Negative Impacts on Body Image during the Summer

  The weather’s quickly getting warmer, and those of us in New England are surely looking forward to it after the long, cold months of winter. Though most do enjoy the changing season, the warm temperatures of spring and summer are often a source of anxiety for many. More specifically, the season of lighter, more revealing clothing can be stressful for those who experience discomfort or negativity regarding their body image. Preparing for summer by attaining a “bikini-ready body” is an idea that frequently gets thrown around during this time of year. When seemingly everyone is enjoying the warm weather in shorts, dresses, and bathing suits, the pressure to fit in with society’s standards of perfection can be immensely difficult.

Social Pressure and Judgement

A large amount of the pressure regarding summer and body image is brought by social interactions and commentary. As human beings, we naturally have insecurities, and unfortunately, these insecurities often manifest as judgement towards others. This can be incredibly prevalent throughout the summer, as many people are conscious about their bodies in one way or another and sadly resort to self-esteem boosting at the expense of others. Whether it be passive-aggressive remarks, backhanded compliments, or online comments, judgement is everywhere. This is not only upsetting to think about, but worsens the issue significantly, as those who are impacted can experience severe drops in confidence and lose their ability to enjoy their summer activities without worrying about the appearance of their body.

Diet Culture

In addition to judgement, body image during the summer is also fueled by diet culture, which promotes mere weight loss as opposed to genuine physical and mental wellbeing. Diet culture during the warmer seasons often appears through advertisements geared toward selling ways to lose weight quickly for the summer and become “bikini-ready.” The seemingly quick and easy solutions are typically unrealistic and unhealthy, as they are nothing more than businesses profiting off of body insecurity. However, these types of advertisements can result in further damage to people’s self-esteem during the summer by amplifying the already-existing pressure to fit the standard for the ideal summer body. Simply hearing an ad on the radio or watching a commercial on television can be enough to increase a person’s feelings of body discomfort or insecurity.

With both social pressure and diet culture worsening the anxiety that comes with summer and body image, it can almost feel impossible to go about daily summer activities without worry. However, there are a few things to keep in mind in regards to body image.

All bodies are different.

Everyone’s bodies carry weight differently. People have varying appetites and different speeds of metabolism. Comparisons aren’t only upsetting, but they’re unfair and inaccurate. It can be easy to get carried away while scrolling through social media feeds filled with people in swimsuits and allowing yourself to make these unfair comparisons. However, do your best to catch yourself! As stated, it’s inaccurate and certainly not worth a drop in your self-confidence.

Your comfort is priority.

In addition to comparisons, there’s also the plain fact that your comfort is what comes first in terms of your body and your clothing. If you’re comfortable wearing a bikini at the beach, you should confidently be able to do so. The same goes for the other way around. Body acceptance can be a journey, and it takes time to allow yourself to wear clothes you have not felt comfortable in previously. You are on your journey, so if you aren’t comfortable wearing a bikini at the beach, that’s perfectly okay too.

You’re worth more than society’s standards.

At the end of the day, the concept of a “summer body” is artificial. Society’s standards are entirely made up and usually unrealistic. Summer activities are meant to be enjoyed without the pressure of appearance. As difficult as it can be at times, make your best effort to dress with comfort and confidence this summer. And try to remember, your body has gotten you through so much, and it deserves your love.

Kaviya is a sophomore studying psychology and biology. Her hobbies include drawing and reading thriller/mystery novels, and she hopes to work in the field of clinical psychology one day.
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