The "Summer Body" Ideal
Social media has evolved drastically over the past few years, and so has the influence of the Internet. As an avid Instagrammer and Facebook-user, I am constantly on the hunt for either a) aesthetic pictures to use as inspiration, or b) memes to send my co-workers (yes, our working relationship is built solidly on memes).
Scrolling through social media platforms during the springtime, though, is breeding grounds for trouble. It seems like every second image I come across involves some sort of “joke” about dieting, weight gain, bathing suit season, or quick-fix workouts. I am bombarded on the daily with tips to lose weight or get in shape for the summer when the bikini or bathing suit is known to become the “outfit of choice”.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I admit to using social media very frequently, so I am very aware that by “logging in” I am “signing up” to view such images. My argument, though, is that messages involving getting our bodies ready for the summer can have disastrous consequences on a large part of the population - specifically those who are feeling vulnerable.
Social media already does a great job of making us feel inadequate throughout most of the year. There is no comparison game that is stronger than the one evoked by Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. It seems like comparison has spanned more domains than we can count. Homes, wardrobe, interior decor, gadgets, appliances, lifestyles, foods, skincare, workouts, products… no matter what we have, there is always room to have more.
Now that we are well into May, the focus is currently all about the “ideal summer body”. Want to lose 5 pounds before you put on a bathing suit? There is a meal plan for that. Want to tone up before going to the beach? There is a workout regime for that. Want to wallow in the fact that you are nowhere near bikini ready? There is an (inappropriate) meme for that.
The fact that we even have a season titled “bathing suit season” just goes to show how powerful this whole idea has become. As someone who struggles with very extreme body image issues, I am particularly sensitive to the idea that most of society cringes at the thought of putting on a bathing suit. It doesn’t matter if you are a size 2 or a size 20 - as human beings, we are all subject to insecurities.
This summer, I really encourage you to be even MORE critical when it comes to using social media. Stay away from sites and social media accounts that make you feel bad about yourself. Sometimes, we dive deeper and deeper into “inspirational” images but at the end of our search, we are left feeling more negative than when we started. So, my advice to you is to literally “unplug” from social media. Step outside. Enjoy the warmth!
Don’t feel that you have to change your body to merit putting on a swimsuit. Summer was not meant for that! It’s okay to feel insecure; we are only human, after all. But don’t give in to the pressure to conform to any kind of standard. And know that, at the beach or at the pool, most people are probably feeling just as uncomfortable as you are. So, take a deep breath, and exhale all of your insecurities. Really try and be mindful and live in the moment. Sooner than you know, we’ll be back in parkas and scarves, craving the summer sun. (Now that’s a scary thought).