Bathing suits! Shorts! Exercising outside!
These are a few of the perfect ingredients for summer fun…and negative body image. In the summer, we strip down to more skin-bearing attire for the purpose of keeping cool. The downside is feeling like your body is more exposed to both the sun and the intense scrutiny or judgment of others. Summer can be a tough time of year for those struggling with negative body image, social pressures to look a certain way, or disordered eating.
One way to diffuse negative body image thoughts is to examine your expectations about how you think you should look, and determine who is setting them for you. Is your gym advertising “Lose 15 lbs by summer!” or is a friend posting on Facebook about the 21-Day Challenge? Companies certainly increase their marketing during summer months because they already know men and women feel more vulnerable to body shame and negative self perceptions. Remember that everyone’s bodies are different, and yours doesn’t need to change just because of the time of year, or because a fitness company decides to increase their marketing.
Also, it helps to remember why you decided to wear a piece of clothing, or why you decided to go to the beach. Is it to show off your body? Or are you wanting to feel comfortable in the heat of summer by wearing a tank top? Or are you wanting splash in the water at the beach by wearing a bathing suit?
“You have as much right to be there on the sidewalk, or on the beach, as anyone else does, no matter your shape or size,” says Melanie Rogers, MS, RDN, CDN, CEDRD. There is no reason – not even a negative body image – that should interfere with your ability to have fun this summer and wear what you want to wear!
This post was written by Colleen McCarron, LCPC, an individual counselor at Emily Cook Therapy in Bethesda, MD.