Maintaining a Healthy and Realistic Attitude toward Body Image during the Summer MonthsJune 10, 2009
First, if you haven’t read Monday’s guest post please check it out. We’re all talking about the summer months and having a healthy body image these days, and it’s no wonder why: “bikini season” is screaming at us from every medium available.
A recent post written by Dara at You’d Be So Pretty If… really captures just how far we have lost sight of the meaning of summer and a swimsuit. As she points out, practically all of the information thrown at us about summer and having fun revolves around the presumption that every single one of us a) are insecure about our bodies and thus looking for a way to cover ourselves up as much as possible, b) have “flaws” that absolutely must be concealed lest someone else realize that we don’t in fact look like an airbrushed supermodel, or c) are in the ongoing process of trying to lose weight. Because why wouldn’t we want to lose weight? That’s what we’re supposed to spend our lives doing, right?
It’s despicable that a perfectly healthy person can feel fine about themselves and be proud of what they’ve got and not have any issues with wearing a bikini, and then open up a magazine or glance over at a billboard and begin to second guess themselves that maybe they ought to lose another five pounds. What is five pounds going to change when you’re a healthy person? I firmly believe that when you look good, you feel good, but I also believe that I’m probably the only one who is going to notice if I lose or gain a few pounds. It’s still going to leave me within the healthy range of the BMI, and I doubt it’s going to put a huge strain on the fit of my clothes (except for those skinny jeans. But that’s because they’re the lie-down-on-the-bed-to-wriggle-into-them type, and that’s first thing in the morning before I’ve got any food in my stomach).
When I was reading this article about changing your mindset to lose weight for health reasons, this line really jumped out at me when they discuss mantras to say to yourself: “I am happy RIGHT NOW and I am choosing to lose weight to improve my health”.
Let me repeat that: To improve my health.
That does not include vanity pounds.
When did this cycle begin? When did everyone I know begin to say “I’d really like to lose another five pounds”? Poor or distorted body image seems to plague all of us. LoveIN My Tummy wrote a beautiful post about this in which she writes:
Even though I’m fairly certain my body fat hovers around the 15% range, if not lower, and I was in the gym, busting out 45 min. each on the elliptical and in the weight room, working hard to ‘tone up’… This got me thinking about all the different ways of eating I’ve tried in the last several years and how my body really hasn’t changed that much (well, aside from carting a few babies around in my uterus). But why am I always searching for the NEXT BEST THING? Why am I not good enough just how I am?
Ask yourself the following questions:
Is it your job to look like a supermodel?
Are your thighs airbrushable when you’re going about your daily life?
Are you at a healthy weight (which may or may not be within the Body Mass Index, depending on how much muscle you have and your body type)?
Do you eat fairly well and exercise regularly?
Are you capable of (without ailments preventing you from) playing in the sun?
If you answered “no” to the first two questions and “yes” to the last three questions, then ask yourself these ones:
Am I happy with how I look? If I’m not, why am I not?
Chances are, those “flaws” that society tells us to conceal because they are just so ghastly aren’t even noticeable by anyone else. Because, let’s face it, if we’re looking at all this magazine junk about bikini season, we’re probably doing it to improve ourselves, whatever that means, and really not caring much about how other people around us look.
When I was an au pair living in Spain, my house mother once noticed that my thighs had “unsightly” stretch marks on them and she asked me in a tone of fascination and disgust, “What are those?”. She then made a couple other derogatory statements regarding weight and stretch marks which I’d rather not repeat here, but suffice it to say that I lounged by the pool in my bikini the very next day in defiance.
These remarks came from not only a 40 year old woman, but also a mother of two. I find it very hard to believe that she, unlike the rest of the population, did not have stretch marks somewhere on her body. It’s a fact of life, people.
I don’t know about you, but I’m wearing a bikini this summer, just like I do every year. Life is too short to worry that we might not have perfectly toned legs or a sculpted washboard for a stomach. We’re all swimsuit ready! If you’re reasonably healthy and do not have medical concerns, then stop thinking that you need to lose the vanity pounds and start enjoying life.
What do you think? How’s your body image treating you these days? Is anything holding you back? Share in the comments and we’ll persuade the confidence to come shining through!