Your “Summer Bod” Isn’t About Being Skinny

Insecurities don’t disappear overnight, so here are some tips to take back your summer and start your path to long term body positivity.


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Trigger Warning: This article deals with themes of body negativity. This article does not focus or speak on aspects of diet culture, only on aspects meant to promote positive self image and a safe mental headspace. If anything mentioned is a trigger, please evaluate your mental health before proceeding.


Disclaimer: I am not, nor do I claim to be, a medical professional. All advice given comes from personal experience and should not be taken in place of professional help.


Most people live for summer, and for good reason. The pools are open, the grills are out, and the time for rest and relaxation is in full swing. But if you’re anything like me summer comes with more than a few mixed feelings. From the fashion industry’s obsession with putting women in bikinis and cropped...well everything, to shirtless guys flexing their abs at the beach. It’s hard not to compare your body to the “Summer bods” around you. Sure, traveling to the Bahamas sounds awesome, but what do you do when planning your outfits just leads to an anxiety attack? You want to have the time of your life, but when you aren’t comfortable in your skin, it feels impossible to do so.


Body negativity isn’t confined to one size and neither is body positivity.


Insecurities don’t disappear overnight, so here are some tips to take back your summer and start your path to long term body positivity.


1. It’s not about looking good, it’s about feeling good.


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Summertime shopping is hard as hell if you aren’t into the cropped look.


Maybe you’re modest and would prefer to wear something that covers more skin, or perhaps you’re not comfortable in your body and are still working on body positivity. Although both are okay, the limited options of regular sized/full length clothing is enough to make anyone feel like crap. At parties you feel like the odd one out—and not feeling awesome in your outfit definitely adds to the fomo if everyone around you is practically half naked. Sure, you’re at the same event, but you can’t stop that nagging feeling that you’re still missing out. To this I offer you two solutions and a bit of advice.


Solution A: If fomo’s kicking in because you’re more covered than others, find your homies—your real homies—and talk to them.

You don’t have to tell them everything that’s going on in your head, just let them know how you feel. From adjusting the event, to twinning and matching your fashion vibe, your real friends will find a way to remind you, you aren’t alone. The FOMO definitely lessens if you aren’t the only one.


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Solution B: Cancelling plans over not finding the right outfit sucks, but when Insta blows up the next day, the FOMO hits hard. An easy way to counter these feelings is to physically step out of that funk!

Have days where you can be spontaneous and dress up. Dress for Brunch and just walk around Barnes and Noble, or suit up for an expensive night out and head over to McDonald’s. I’ve done it with friends and it’s a bit weird at first, but trust me when I say you’ll feel like a badass!


If you’re coming from a place of body insecurity I won’t just tell you to own your shit and wear what you want (though you absolutely should), I know it’s more complicated than that. If you’re hesitant and want to wear something someone stupidly said you shouldn’t, do it and start small by wearing it for yourself. Slap it on under your hoodie, or for a late night drive to the store, then build on it until you’re comfortable wearing it around others.


Remember, it’s not about how you look, it’s about how you feel.

2. Practice photography.


Photo by David Suh

Social media is flooded with instagram models, but since when does that mean you can’t pop off and take good pics? The influx of body insecurity comes from many places, but when it shows up in photography it can be for a simpler reason than you think.


Professional photographer and TikToker David Suh, recently posted an IGTV on his Instagram (@davidsuhphoto) talking about how important it is to understand that photography, like any other art form, requires practice. In his video he describes a scenario and says:


If your goal is to draw a portrait of yourself, but you ended up drawing a horrible stick figure, what would your reaction be? You most likely wouldn't say “Oh my gosh, I look ugly!” And instead you would say, “Oh man, I really suck at drawing.” But when it comes to taking photos of ourselves, and reacting to bad photos of ourselves, it’s no longer, “Oh my gosh, I’m terrible at taking photos of myself,” it usually ends up becoming, “Oh my gosh, I look so ugly.”

The idea behind his analogy is to expose how we’ve come to equate our self worth with these images, seeing ourselves as the problem, not the photography.


Body negativity stems from many places, but at the root, the struggle is with body image. Practicing your photography skills will help boost your confidence and encourage you to see yourself in a more positive light!


(David Suh posts many videos walking people through this if you don’t know where to start!)


3. Beat the heat and get your energy back.


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These are the hottest months of the year. You’re sweaty, you feel gross, and most of all you’re tired. With no classes to worry about, it’s easy to slip into a routine of sleeping in late and just chilling at home watching Netflix. Might seem fine at first, but after a week of lazing around, you’re gonna feel disconnected from your body. In other words, you’ll feel like shit. Before those crappy feelings turn into depressive thoughts, you need to do things that can help you snap out of it.


Make plans, have an early breakfast, or even take a cool shower in the morning!

Personally, when I fall in a slump, I throw some seedless watermelon in a blender, add some lemon juice, and give my body its much needed dose of citrus. It’s a great way to zap myself with some energy and gets my mind in a much calmer headspace. Not a fan of citrus? Then try other fruits or something super tasty—like pancakes!


When your body’s motivated to do things (even if it’s as simple as making breakfast) it’s easier to take on those Netflix marathons without your insecurities taking over.


4. Go on a walk.


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Yes, walking is healthy and whatever but fuck doing it just for physical health, do it for your mental health. You’re not doing this to lose weight or stay fit, this is your personal exposé! Throw on whatever cute outfit you want (jeans, sweatpants, pjs, a dress) and just walk around wherever you’d like. Go at your own pace and feel the sun or vibe to some music.


I got this idea from Jameela Jamil, an actress who champions body positivity, who occasionally streams on instagram to do something similar.

The objective isn’t to measure your self worth by how much you sweat, it’s about understanding how much the simple act of walking can help the mind.

We mostly see it as another method of weight loss, when it isn’t. A walk can help alleviate an anxiety attack, help you come down from a depressive high, give you a space to think through your problems, or even be a time to reflect on positive things in your life.


Society’s obsession with equating the term hot to the word skinny, will take years to dismantle, but we can start by reminding ourselves that our “summer bod” isn’t about being skinny. It’s about respecting and loving our body, not just physically but mentally too.


Your body is a home, and if you can love others, you deserve to love yourself too.


With light and care,

Draco Rose