It’s about to be that warm, fun, vacation time of the year. Finally, right!? I can relax in the sun. Sit by the pool or even go to the beach…wait…that means swimsuit season. Sounds more like the I’ll stay inside, wear a shirt to the pool, self-conscious, body comparison time of the year. Doesn’t sound so fun now, huh?
Do you ever have these thoughts? If you do, you are not alone! I hear it all the time. “I can’t go to the pool until I’m tan, lose 10 pounds, or get that perfect swimsuit.” Last week, I was out to brunch with a friend and she said: “I have to start a diet because I can’t be seen in a swimsuit right now”. At first, I thought “yeah, me too.” And then *click*, I thought, what am I saying? We are so used to not accepting ourselves the way we are that we just agree with societal norms. That was when I decided to practice what I preach. And I realized it is easier to talk with clients about being body positive than it is with your best friend. Many of my friends don’t work in the mental health field so talking about “dieting” and looking a certain way is just a topic of conversation. But to me, it relates to every aspect of our being. We can talk about what we don’t like about ourselves, but is it actually helpful? I don’t think so. I decided to research and pay attention to what people around me think and feel about themselves, and specifically being in a swimsuit.
I have heard time and time again: “get bathing suit ready and here’s how…” on every social media outlet? Literally. Every. Single. One. And honestly, I’m tired of it. So how do we change the conversation from talking about weight, body image, and diet and go back to enjoying summer like when we were kids?
First, let’s individually be the change we want to see. You’re allowed to have these thoughts and feelings, it’s pretty “normal” these days to have body envy as social media and society feeds into people’s insecurities. Basically saying that skinniness equals beauty and worth, that dieting equals dedication and healthy, and that working out means hard working and anything else means you’re fat, “not skinny enough”, lazy, unhealthy, and thus unworthy. That being said, let’s change the conversation. Let’s agree here and now that we choose not to engage in these conversations and to encourage others to stop as well.
Second, everyone has insecurities. Let’s just accept that. We are all not the same and if we were…how boring would that be! We need to learn to appreciate all body types because trust me from working with clients with eating disorders for years, weight does not determine happiness.
Third, learn how to love your body the way it is. Practice being grateful for all of the things your body allows you to do and be nice to yourself, you’ll be surprised to learn that you have the power to determine your own happiness.
Lastly, let’s enjoy the moment. Ask yourself: “Am I actually enjoying myself? Am I taking pictures to enjoy the moment or is it because I want others to think I am having the time of my life?” I promise you, enjoying the moment will bring much more happiness than likes on a post.
That being said, let’s be the change we want to see! Change the conversation from “You look so good, you lost weight” to “You seem happy. And that makes me happy”.
We can be the change we want to see. It just takes practice.
Authored by Emily Baum, M.S., RDN, LD