Here, in Danville, CA, we are in the full swing of summer. Having just celebrated the 4th of July and enduring temperatures in upper 90s and higher (it is 101.5 degrees as I write this), the heat is on. My social media feeds are full of people posting their bikini and swim trunk clad bodies beating the heat, relaxing, and having fun in the cooler coastal areas.
I don't know about you all, but it can be easy for me to slip into the comparison game; you know the one where I'm like "Dang she looks good, why can't I look that good in a bikini; I should have hit the gym more during the past few months." Our culture stresses a very particular body type as the most attractive, and when we perceive ourselves to fall short of that, our body dissatisfaction can eat away at our happiness and sense of acceptance.
So, in the spirit of summer and the normal rise in body dissatisfaction that occurs when you feel like you don't have that "beach-ready" body, I wanted to share with you all 3 strategies you can try if you find yourself getting sucked into the body comparison game.
1. Appreciate your body's functioning rather than appearance Instead of focusing on your perceived flaws or comparing your body to others, try to maintain a non-judgmental, neutral stance on your body. Focus more objectively on your body parts and what they do. For example, instead getting down on yourself because you do not have the perfectly flat stomach or six-pack, take some time to reflect on what your stomach and abdomen do for you-digest food so it can nourish you and give you energy to survive, protects vital internal organs that keep you alive.
I suggest writing this down in a journal where you can come back and reflect on this the next time you experience body image satisfaction.
2. Do something to nurture or take care of your body This can take the form of taking a walk outside (being mindful to not do it out of compulsion that you need to exercise to look better), taking a soothing bubble bath or making time for a favorite pastime. The point is instead of mentally tearing yourself down, to do the opposite (beyond trying to convince yourself that you look "good" as this can be difficult to do); do something that demonstrates that you appreciate your body.
3. Research/Identify examples of influential people who are respected for their contributions to society other than how much they weigh or their appearance. It can be helpful to remind ourselves that contrary to the messages we receive from society, looks are not everything. In fact, they are only a small part of our whole selves. I suggest making a list of these people to come back for further reflection when needed.
While summer can be a time full of rest, relaxation, and fun, it can also be a time when body image dissatisfaction is at its height, so I hope these 3 tips are helpful in guiding you towards enjoyment this summer without body image dissatisfaction taking over.
Ten Steps To Positive Body Image; National Eating Disorders Association; https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/general-information/ten-steps
8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder Workbook by Carolyn Costin and Gwen Schubert Grabb See it here: 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder Workbook