While the first day of summer isn’t technically until June 21, the days are starting to get longer and warmer which means one thing: the beginning of beach season. Days spent on the beach are meant to be fun and carefree but, for many, they are associated with anxiety about physical appearance and self-conscious thoughts.
According to a 2013 survey conducted by Lands’ End, 89 percent of women feel most exposed in a bathing suit. For 20 percent of those women, the experience is also associated with worry and anxiety.
So what does a “beach body” truly mean in today’s culture? According to straighthealth.com “a beach body is best described as toned, muscular and in shape” and is achieved through weight loss, building muscle and a healthy diet. In an article entitled “Get a Great Beach Body in 3 Days,” Cosmopolitan.com gives tips to “appear slimmer...more toned...and adding definition.” While some of these tips include what accessories to wear to the shore and how to walk confidently in your sandals, the majority focus on dieting and last minute glute and thigh exercises.
The swimsuit advertisements start earlier and earlier every year. Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook are constantly inundating users with images of celebrities and models flouncing around in their designer bikinis. This summer, the “Baywatch” movie has its hand in promoting swimsuit related insecurities by re-popularizing that iconic red lifeguards’ ensemble. It’s impossible to spend time at the beach without worrying about appearance or comparing yourself to others.
However, along with the toxicity of the beach body mindset comes a culture that’s putting in equal effort to empower women and trying to send a more positive message of self-love.
Celebrities like Ashley Graham are releasing clothing lines that cater to women of all sizes. Her inclusive line of bathing suits is called “Swimsuits for All.”
"The Ashley Graham x Swimsuits for All woman is confident, happy, and encourages others to be their best selves," says Graham to Swimsuit.com. "Embrace your figure, and wear what makes you most comfortable. Accepting your body is a personal journey and doesn't happen overnight."
Medical professionals are also fighting the good fight for body positivity, sharing information on how to be your healthiest self during the warmer months, rather than focusing solely on weight loss.
“Get seven hours of sleep per night,” Dr. Robert Ziltzer, MD FACP, FAAP, Obesity Medicine Certified, recently told Fox News Health in regards to summer wellness. “Sleep deprivation increases hunger and fat-building hormones.”
As part of their new “Love Your Body” series, TODAY Style recently asked nine different women to put on bathing suits, look at themselves in the mirror and speak openly about what they saw, both emotionally and physically. The experience was empowering for the women and negated the idea of one standard, ideal “bikini body.”
Any body that makes it to a beach is a beach body. With all of the different bathing suit styles rising in popularity, it’s easier now than ever before for everyone to find something they feel comfortable and confident in. Supporting the ideals of a “beach body” is not going to make anyone’s summer more enjoyable, so do what you should be doing year round to stay healthy: get regular exercise, eat those seasonal fruits and vegetables and be sure to get outside with your friends. Everyone should be able to make the most of their summer months without worrying about trying to fit some arbitrary societal standards.
Julia Mancini is the associate life editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at Julia.firstname.lastname@example.org.