By Rachel Payne
Growing up, I never realised bodies were seasonal. My body worked pretty similarly all year round. Sure, after a day at the beach, I may have gained a few freckles, a tan (or more realistically a blotchy sunburn in stubborn retaliation against my mum’s insistence to apply lotion), but otherwise, I looked pretty similar. My body didn’t stop being a body with the sudden change in temperature. I wasn’t, and am still not, a weather dependent entity. Why is it then, that after scrolling through my Instagram with summer approaching, I’m often left feeling unsure and insecure about whether I’m ‘bikini body’ ready?
I’m sure we all know by now, what we’re fed by the media is often far from reality. In a world of professional models and photoshop, stretch marks and cellulite seem non-existent. Victoria Secret’s ‘revolutionary’ first ‘plus-sized’ model was hired in 2019, at an attempt to encourage inclusivity and diversity within the fashion industry. Yet, at a size 16, Ali Tate-Cutler actually represents the average size of women in the UK. This wasn’t diversity. Instead, it simply played into the myth that to be anything above a size 4 is an anomaly.
With social media, frequently this mythologised universe feels even more dominant. Over the past month, the emergence of an unedited picture of Khloe Kardashian became an internet obsession. Suddenly, the idolised figure was unposed, relaxed, natural. It is probably not a surprise to anyone that, like many celebrities, Khloe’s photos are edited. What surprises me is how much of an impact the ‘real’ Khloe had on the internet. After watching Harry Potter, I don’t feel worried or insecure that my life isn’t filled with potions and wands; I’m aware that what I have just seen isn’t real. Yet if I’m aware the ‘summer-ready bodies’ I see online are so regularly similarly fictitious, why am I still comparing myself to them?
I guess that’s the point. Somebody, somewhere, will make money from my insecurities. The UK diet industry and skincare market are both worth an estimated 2 billion pounds every year. I’m not saying it’s wrong to want to look your best – that’s natural. However, if we’re consistently blindly falling for the trap of feeling ‘not good enough’, set up by companies to simply make more money, we’re ultimately damaging ourselves.
So, is it possible to even feel secure when we’re consistently surrounded by such extreme, unrealistic expectations? It’s so simple to state, but everybody, and every body, looks different- and that’s okay! When dressing for ‘hot girl (or guy) summer’, it is not the size or the shape of your body which determines how good your outfit looks. Instead, it’s the confidence you carry when wearing it. Unfollow the ‘influencers’ who make you feel bad, or with whom you find yourself subconsciously comparing your own body. If social media is your thing, why not follow accounts which instead promote body positivity? Some great examples are: @i_weigh, @alexlight_ldn and @iskra.
Society loves to feed off insecurities. It loves to put people down, to make them feel less valuable for looking a certain way. Imagine a community in which we support each other, not just throughout summer, but all year. Where people feel they can dress how they like, without fear of judgement or comparison.
Bodies aren’t seasonal. More importantly, summer isn’t discriminatory. Summer won’t care about weight, cellulite, scars or anything else. Wear what makes you feel confident, surround yourself with people who make you feel good, and try not to fall for the toxicity present in so much of the media. If you find yourself asking whether your body is ‘ready for summer’, the answer is always going to be yes – just remember to wear sun cream!
Image by Kimson Doan at Unsplash