The other day I was walking through a department store and walked past the swimsuit section. Clearly marked on a suit was a sticker that said, “Look 10 pounds lighter”. This is appalling for a couple reasons. For one I am not sure about the technology involved to make a swimsuit make you look different and second this was a blatant marketing tool. There is a lot of pressure to change your body during the summer months but you are allowed to enjoy the summer with the body you have right now.
As an eating disorder therapist in Texas and a body image, self-esteem, and eating disorder recovery coach here are my tips to help you beat the summer body pressure.
- Remove and hide all triggering content on social media.
There is an increase in ads and media right now citing the need to change your body this summer, but this information is harmful. Keep in mind these messages are marketing tools. You can take action by hiding all these posts from your social media feed and turn off notifications so that you are not alerted.
- Know you can enjoy the summer in your body today.
You don’t need to change your body to enjoy the summer. Last time I checked summer happened for everyone, all over the world, and you deserve to enjoy summer activities.
- You can walk away from triggering conversations.
You likely have a lot of friends and family talking about feeling the pressure. This will cause a lot of conversations about dieting and exercise and it will likely make you feel triggered and uncomfortable. When these conversations start know you can walk away. It is OK to tell a “little white lie” to help you leave the conversation. For example you can say, “Oh hey, there is Susan I need to tell her something. I will be right back”, “I’m super thirsty. I am going to run and get a drink, do you want anything?”, or “I have to go to the bathroom, be right back”. You do not owe anyone an explanation or a defense.
- Tell your support when you feel triggered.
You don’t have to tell anyone why you left a triggering conversation, but you may want your support to know when you are feeling triggered. Let those closest to you know when a conversation about body talk triggers you.
- Understand your value.
Who you are is so much more than what you look like. You have some strengths, skills, and characteristics that make you valuable and important. These things have nothing to do with your body. If you are struggling with finding your value, ask yourself what is most important to you and how you want to be remembered.
- Practice self-compassion.
Self compassion is just about being kinder to yourself. It is not you lying to yourself. You can acknowledge your discomfort but changing and reframing the words that you use to describe your discomfort can help you feel better about yourself. Rather than saying something like “I feel so (insert body shaming word or phrase) you can say something like, “I feel uncomfortable in my body right now”.
- Have Fun!
You deserve to enjoy the summer and be comfortable. You do not need to change your body to enjoy summer activities.