Here’s how to love your body during swimsuit season!
With spring in full swing, swim suit season is not far off and both men and women are already in an anxious frenzy about their bodies.
It seems that in the months just before summer, along with making plans to hit the sand or have pool parties with friends, many of us also get out the microscope and work up a sweat about our “flaws”.
The Dread Affects Men Just As Much as Women
When we think about insecurities and spring attire, we usually imagine how harsh the media and pop culture is against women’s bodies and their perfectly normal varying sizes, shapes and colors.
What might come as a surprise is that men are just as insecure and self-conscious about their own flaws as women.
In an article about how men feel in swimsuits, 10 men shared their thoughts, feelings, and insecurities. From back hair and ‘girly knees’ to ill-fitting suits and how the media shoves ‘beautiful’ bodies in their faces, men felt just the same as women did about being half naked in public – not good. (The Cut, 2015 - https://www.thecut.com/2015/07/10-men-on-bathing-suits-and-body-angst.html)
It seems that almost everywhere you go from grocery stores to your Facebook feed you're bombarded with articles talking about the 'countdown' to swim suit season and how to get ready for it like it's some type of competition that should be ruling your life.
These articles make it easy to understand the why we develop so much body insecurity and anxiety surrounding clothing, swimwear, and shorts, and sleeveless shirts and other “revealing” clothing.
You Don't Have to Feel This Way
If you're ready to start getting body positive and work on becoming a healthier and happier you, here's what you can do to start feeling good in whatever you're wearing, not just a swim suit.
If you tend to blow off social engagements because you won't feel comfortable in the 'appropriate' attire try to remember that the sizes and shapes you see in magazines and media are nowhere near a true representation of the general population.
Remember that the average women's size is 14 and researchers from University of Texas report that “the average size for "real men" in America is a 44 versus the 40 regular of male models. The average height is 5 feet 9 inches and the average weight is about 162 pounds among American men”. So there's a serious possibility that there will be plenty of other men and women there both smaller and larger than you at social events - and that's OK.
Do you attempt to avoid shopping for swim suits and other summer and spring clothes just because you feel you won't look right? Being miserable in the heat is no way to live! Try to focus on the experience you're going to have at functions and events when you'll be wearing these clothes - Is it a family member's birthday? Wedding celebration? Wear comfortable clothes that fit you properly, I promise no one will be focused on it; they'll be focused on the event too!
Try to remember that as much as you are nervous about your appearance in social outings, other people are most likely just as self-conscious (unfortunately)! They're not walking around preoccupied with how you're looking in your swim suit but wondering if they're looking OK too. You are your biggest critic so don't be so hard on yourself.
If you're adamant on 'changing your ways,' 'eating better' or 'getting fit' to look better in summer clothes, please do it for the right reasons, not the wrong ones. Moving towards better health is always a great idea, so instead of trying fad diets and crazy work outs that might not stick, try eating intuitively and joyful movement for exercise. You don't necessarily need to 'work out' to get healthy - you'll get there sooner and stay there longer if you engage in activities you enjoy doing - cycling, yoga, soccer in the park, swimming with your kids. Give it a shot and watch your self-consciousness melt away as you gain confidence.
What does it mean to be Body Positive?
It's no secret that over the years as fashion models got smaller, American men and women alike began to express an alarming dissatisfaction with their own bodies. For example:
- Just twenty years ago, models on average were weighing about 8% less than the average woman while today they are weigh a startling 23% less.
- Models have been in the plus size range (between size 12 and 18) before and were rocking the runways but today they've dwindled down to sizes 6 to 14.
The average American woman is a size 14, so why does the fashion industry deem that to be plus size? Surely, no one can come up with a good answer for that question.
To prove that point even further, most models are strutting down the runway with Body Mass Index's (BMI's) that meet the criteria for anorexia.
Is that really the message we want to be spreading across the world - that beauty is found only in those bodies that are, from a medical and statistical standpoint, unhealthy?
Luckily, Americans have started to catch on to that very idea and it has given birth to the Body Positive Movement. This movement is focused on loving your body just the way it is when you are eating according to hunger and exercising for fun and not weight loss.
Realizing that your worth is not centered on solely your image is just the beginning of a path towards happiness.
Changing negative feelings about your body can be a challenge. If you need more support and help, here is the link for my Text2bwell positive body image program: www.text2bwell.com or text the word behealthy to 44222.
Text2bwell is not a substitute for therapy (which you can also schedule by contacting me), but rather a very low cost way to receive confidential group support and coaching from me in an online format, all from the privacy of your smartphone. I hope you will join so we can remain in contact!