“Our bodies are always ready” is the name of an essay on medium that I believe is a beautiful embodiment of the reasons why we need to embrace our bodies as they come and in doing so, eradicate the concept of a “summer body” and harmful weight loss practices in general.
The phrase “summer body” refers to the perception of a “perfect body” that must come in time for summer, when people tend to be outside. It’s bikini weather, sundress and shorts weather, a time when it is almost socially acceptable to show skin. Whatever body is in when the summer months roll around is the goal— in recent times, it’s been a slim frame, non-existent waist, wide hips and maybe abs.
Generally, as the summer months approach, the motivation is to attain said body in time for bikini weather. The goal for a summer body may be associated with questionable health practices like losing unnecessary weight or prioritising diet over nutrition. Even where the methods are healthy, the notion that our bodies need to be edited for a particular time of year is ridiculous and problematic.
Unhealthy body practices start from our perception of our bodies. When a person is discontent with their weight, it may inspire them to do things that are potentially harmful because they believe it’ll help them lose weight. People have wired their jaws shut, starved themselves and used harmful substances to attain their desired weight.
Understandably, the messaging on how women’s bodies should look is projected on us everywhere; by family, friends, random strangers, the media, people on the internet, and so on. It can be difficult not to start to look at yourself a certain way because you don’t fit the mould of what is celebrated and desired. There’s aggressive weight loss messaging almost everywhere, and it’s hard not to buy into it.
The way society treats weight in most instances is very unhealthy. As human beings, our weights fluctuate; some people are slim, and some people are curvy. Our bodies are constantly in transition in multiple ways, and we should let them do so without putting additional pressure on ourselves to look this way or that because that’s what’s acceptable, lauded or desirable by society.
Punishing yourself to have whatever body type is “in” is an unsustainable practice because due to patriarchy and the capitalist commodification of women’s bodies and insecurities, the standards are always changing. One day, skinny is in, and the next, it’s thickness. If you constantly attempt to alter your appearance according to what’s glorified in media and fashion, the alterations will be endless, and that’s no way to live, constantly feeling inadequate.
Your body goals, if any, should be centred on health and wellness, and they should not be channelled towards a specific time of year but should be a year-round journey. A healthy body and not appearance should be the goal because the best version of yourself can be attained by treating yourself well and prioritising how you feel. After all, when you feel good, you look good.
Why the Concept of a “Summer Body” is Toxic
There are a million expectations of women and how we should look. These expectations are also not constant; they change with the times and depend on what particular insecurity beauty brands and the media are trying to project on us at the time.
The weight stigma that comes with the summer body goal can negatively affect our self-esteem and confidence.
Everyone’s bodies are entirely theirs, and they may decide how they wish to appear, whether regarding weight gain, loss or body mods. However, sometimes there is a need to examine the reasons behind our desires and if the quest to attain them is sustainable and healthy. A lot of the drive for weight loss is rooted in fatphobia. People put a lot of unnecessary pressure on themselves to lose weight, even when it’s not needed, for purely cosmetic reasons. This is in itself not a crime, do what you want with your body, but where unhealthy practices like drinking questionable Instagram teas or supplements or lacing yourself in a waist trainer all day come into the equation, then we need to take a step back and examine our motivations and goals.
Instead, Some Mindful Tips to Care For Your Body Include:
Throughout the year, regular exercise, adequate rest, proper nutrition, regular wellness checks with your doctor and consistent self-care practices can be instrumental in keeping our bodies healthy. In summer, you can opt for activities that go best with hot weather like swimming or taking long walks in the evening when the weather is cooler.
We need to decentre other people’s perceptions of us and appreciate ourselves knowing our opinion of ourselves is what matters most and that people who will appreciate us as we are also exist. And even then, we won’t need their approval to feel good and confident.
Let’s be real, appearance can be important, and it’s normal to care about how you look and want to look good. But here’s the thing, you can look good as you are without imposing rigid expectations on yourself. Beauty is subjective- Cliche, sure, but true. What constitutes beauty in the eyes of the populace changes from region to region and era to era, and what the general populace adulates does not matter; the world doesn’t have to think you’re beautiful for you to be beautiful. You don’t need everyone’s eyes to feel seen; first yours, then others who are lucky enough to experience and appreciate your beauty.
You should know that you are a baddie on a daily basis, from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed and proclaim it until you believe it. It’s easier said than done, but it’s necessary for us to love our bodies as they come and as they are. There’s no ideal body, so there’s no need to wait until you look a certain way to wear what you want or flaunt yourself as you like. Your body is always a summer body; a beach body is a body on the beach, so wear that bikini, those shorts, or that fitted dress today!