How to Stay Body Positive this Summer
You deserve to have an enjoyable summer no matter what your body looks like. The promotion of a certain body shape in the media can make the pressure to diet and lose weight for summer tremendous, particularly for bigger people, and this can result in many of us only having fun to an extent because we are constantly worrying about our body. This combined with a heightened number of outdoor social events, holidays and the literal fact that in warm weather we wear less clothes because of the heat, summer is such a hard time for so many of us. I can remember holidays, BBQ’s and days out with friends that I was hardly present for because I felt too big, or times when I got so hot and uncomfortable underneath shapewear and excessive clothing to try and hide my body. Sometimes I’d just cancel plans. It’s not fair that so many of us have missed out on things just because diet culture made us feel worthless.
Eventually, I became sick of all of my memories being tainted by dieting but more importantly, I was sick of not feeling good enough and hating myself. I decided to make some changes that eventually helped me get where I am today. Diet culture is everywhere, so it can be hard to not believe that being thinner is better, but I have some ideas that I think might help you to switch off from worrying about your body and realise that your worth does not come from your weight. You deserve to have an enjoyable summer and you don’t have to lose weight to do that.
Unfollow, unfollow, unfollow!
Diet culture, thinness and ‘perfection’ is promoted everywhere, so why not make your Instagram feed different? Social media has a massive influence on how we see the world and our perception of others, thus making us compare our bodies and lives to the ones we see on social media. But you have the choice to make your Instagram look however, so make your Instagram feed body positive and stop making yourself feel bad with unrealistic expectations.
To do this first step, I went through my following list and unfollowed every account that made me feel bad about myself. This included weight loss journeys, which in my view present certain bodies as ‘before’ pictures, as well as accounts that continuously portrayed their lives as perfect and flawless. This isn’t prescriptive and was just what worked for me - just try unfollowing everything that makes you feel bad or like you want to change your body.
Instead, follow accounts of people that have a similar body type to you and accounts that promote body positivity. Having a diverse feed with different bodies that are unfiltered, unedited and not posed can help us realise what natural looks like: different for everyone. Body Positivity accounts also often provide information and education surrounding body positivity, capitalism’s role in diet culture, eating disorders, mental health and more: so they’re really worth following. Representation matters and seeing people like you could make you realise your worth, regardless of your weight.
Some examples of Instagram accounts I follow and love that are body positive: @lovefromdanica , @bodyposipanda , @binkylastrange , @uuggh_as_if ,@selfloveliv and @dulcenalgass.
If your clothes don’t fit, donate them to a local charity shop. Don’t hold onto old clothes in the hope that one day you’ll drop two dress sizes - they’re taking up space and making you feel bad. If you can, buy some new summer clothes that you feel comfortable and confident in; and ignore advice that suggests certain clothes are for certain body types. Charity shops are a good, cheap option to buy new clothes and also mean you’re donating to charity and being sustainable. PSA: I’ve noticed the richer the area, the better the clothes in the charity shop, so it’s worth getting the bus.
Beauty isn’t pain; let yourself be comfortable. This could start with not wearing shapewear this summer in order to hide your belly outline because let’s face it, it’s making you warm. It could also be not piling extra clothing on in order to hide your stomach rolls, or not wearing black to try and appear slimmer. When you get dressed, think about what will make you comfortable in what situation and allow you to enjoy your day. I try and make myself comfortable when I get dressed in the morning in summer because I don’t deserve discomfort. Having said that, if you want to wear heels because, although they’re uncomfortable, you feel good in them - do it. It’s all about your choice and what you want.
Comfort is also the people you surround yourself with. Try not to surround yourself with constant diet talk, or with people who comment on your weight in ways that makes you uncomfortable. This is sometimes unavoidable, so take a bit of time to prepare for possible instances that make you feel bad about your body. For example, you could think of a change of topic if dieting comes up with friends and that makes you feel bad, or switch off from the conversation altogether. Remember, you do not owe anyone anything and you can walk away from situations that make you feel bad about yourself. In turn, don’t let yourself talk about weight all the time, and be mindful about what impact your words have on others.
I think it’s important for us all to recognize our privilege in a society that oppresses some people to a crippling extent. Summer can be considerably more difficult for people who are a bigger dress size than I am. It can also be very difficult for people who have eating disorders or body dysmorphia, and individuals that are trans and non-binary. For example, trans men and non-binary individuals I spoke to stated that having breasts and being unable to cover them during summer can be extremely upsetting. Black women’s bodies are also policed to greater extents than white individuals, and much literature points to the racial origins of fat phobia (Strings, 2019). As I do not face any hurdles in life as a result of my ethnicity or gender identity, I am arguably in a position of privilege in some respects and thus my ideas do not claim to be extensive or helpful to all.