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  • Writer's pictureEmily Szatrowski, RD

Summer Body Image Tips

Summertime body image struggles - oof!

This is such a common issue that so many of us face. As it starts to get warmer and we're showing more skin in swimsuits, shorts, and tank tops, body image struggles can really ramp up. We get bombarded with “Summer Body Challenges” and “How to Get Beach Body Ready” ads, which promote unrealistic and harmful beauty standards. I saw a billboard yesterday that said "Lose 15 lbs in 2 weeks in time for summer!"- pfff! That's crazy! Dangerous, really. The idea that you need to look a certain way to enjoy summer activities is serious diet culture BS!

Women enjoying the summer free from body image struggles

This whole concept of a "summer body" promotes unrealistic and harmful beauty standards. It implies that our bodies are only acceptable if they meet a narrow and often unattainable ideal. This just makes us feel bad about ourselves and sometimes leads to restrictive eating and/or excessive exercise. Our bodies are meant to be enjoyed and appreciated in every season, not just when they fit a certain mold.

But first off, I want to acknowledge that our society unfairly stigmatizes people in larger bodies for not conforming to cultural beauty standards. Affirmations and body positivity won't eliminate the marginalization people in larger bodies face because of their body size. Unfortunately, that’s a reality, and I just want to validate those feelings if that’s your experience.

However, there are steps you can take to start feeling more confident and comfortable in your body right now, exactly as you are—without dieting, without exercise, and without changing a thing about your body. Body image isn’t about the size of your body, it’s about how we feel inside about ourselves.

The goal doesn’t need to be to start loving every inch of your body. Instead, could you start feeling more neutral towards it? Start feeling more comfortable? Stop letting your inner bully hold you back from going to social events or having your photo taken? Basically, can you inch closer to body positivity day by day? And some days will feel easier than others - that's all part of the journey.

Here are my top 5 summer body image tips:

  1. Dress to Put Body Image Thoughts at Ease. As hard as it is to face a closet of clothes that may or may not fit you, it’s so much better for your body image to take the time to sort through your closet and get rid of things that no longer fit. Keeping old clothes that used to fit only serves as a constant reminder of the pressure to change. Buy clothes that fit and feel good on your body as it is right now so you can dress for confidence. Find pieces that fit comfortably, that reflect your unique style and make you feel fabulous. Check out thrift stores for items that won't break the bank.

  2. Change your Thoughts and Words About Your Body. Improving your body image requires that you change your inner dialogue and rewire negative thought patterns. Becoming aware of what your inner bully is saying and actively working to instead think kind, compassionate thoughts that build you up is so important as we cultivate a better body image. What we focus on, we create. If you want to feel good in your skin, start to visualize or imagine yourself this summer, experiencing feelings of self-love and acceptance.

  3. Practice Self-Compassion and Self-Care Instead of Focusing on Changing How you Look. Shift your focus off your body and appearance and the pressure to change your body. Knowing this is a challenging time of year, how can you be extra kind and patient with yourself? How can you take extra steps to pamper yourself and make yourself feel good. Have a long bubble bath, do a home spa day, or take time to journal to process your emotions. This might also mean reaching out for support from someone to help you get through this.

  4. Become Aware of Your Triggers and Avoid Them. For many people, this is social media. A recent study found that young women who took a social media break for as little as one week had a significant boost in self-esteem and body image. Make a decision to delete social media apps from your phone for one week. Or, curate your feed by deleting accounts that promote unrealistic standards and following ones that reflect diverse body types. Certain people in your life might trigger you as well. Can you avoid those people, or put boundaries in place to protect your mental health? If body checking in the mirror is a trigger for you, maybe this is a good time to avoid mirrors, take them down or cover them up.

  5. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others. Instead, think about spreading kindness, love, and compassion to them, through your thoughts and words. You are not alone in your body image struggles. Unfortunately, many people dread the hotter months and wearing summer clothes because they struggle with body image. When we focus on making others feel good, it shifts the focus off our own struggles and ends up making us feel good in the process. We're all on this journey together - let's lift each other up!

I wanted to put my own little spin on the idea of a "Summer Body Challenge" - but make it body positive! So I’ve put together a 7-Day Summer Body Image Challenge. It has specific action steps you can take each day to help you start to embrace your here-and-now body as we enter the summer season. So if you want to follow along and find ways to actually implement these tips, grab the challenge now. There are tools, strategies and action steps you can take each day for a week. I’ve even included a checklist you can use to help you stay on track. If you take the challenge, please let me know what you think and if you experience a shift in your body image this summer!


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