Saturday 26 May 2018

Body Positivity During Bikini Season

Leah shares her top tips for keeping body positive during the pressures of "bikini season".
- Leah

Summer is approaching and that’s super exciting… until social media starts calling it “bikini season”. While the label may seem perfectly harmless and commonplace, it’s toxic because it suggests that you are obligated to wear a bikini between the hot, sticky months of June to August, which can cause a lot of anxiety. It also means that a lot of people are going to start scary fad diets and unrealistic exercise regimes, focusing on getting skinny rather than improving health and fitness.

As someone who has struggled with disordered eating and body image issues throughout my life, I have felt that as soon as “bikini season” draws nearer, I experience a resurgence of self-doubt and insecurity. The thought of feeling obligated to wear skimpy clothing to the beach and take pictures for Instagram is daunting to say the least. The thought of needing to additionally “fix” my body for this moment, throws my memory right back into my worst days. These thoughts can feel like a huge setback in the progress I’ve made. I can go most of the year oozing confidence and body positivity, and that’s a huge accomplishment for me that’s taken a lot of time and energy. Still, the challenge of remaining steadfast in my own confidence gets much harder as the summer approaches.

Over the years, I have learned that “Bikini Season” is such a narrow way to look at such an exciting, fun period of the year, that really does not require you to wear a bikini at all. What I have learned is that you can pick clothes that make you feel comfy and confident in the summer, in the same way that you do in the winter. If a bikini doesn’t feel right to you, that doesn’t make you less than in anyway. Wear a one piece, board shorts, a wetsuit, or a space suit for all it matters.

So, here’s my advice, as someone who has put my own bikini body through a lot of criticism and realized there is another way to look at things:

Do a whole beach day without taking a bikini photo!
Social media can be dangerous, not just because of the photoshopped and unrealistic points of comparison. I often find myself happily and confidently prancing around in a bikini until I see a photo of myself posted. Then I begin to scrutinize, second guess, and panic. I always wish I stayed off of social media and just enjoyed myself in the moment!

Push your own boundaries a bit.
Push your own boundaries a little bit to wear things that you love but may have not always found yourself fully confident in. This should not be based on what you see worn around you, but what you yourself would like to be in. It gets HOT and no one should be trapped sweating in baggy, uncomfortable clothes all summer. Try to wear something daring even once this summer and you may be endlessly glad that you did.

Your progress is real and valid.
The thought of putting on a bikini can feel very triggering, and the resurgence of insecurities can seem to invalidate your progress. This is not the case in the long run! The progress you have made is very valid and is a continuous journey on the path to self-acceptance. Talk to yourself as you would a close friend and remind yourself that it is okay to still be working on your self-image.

My name is Leah, I'm an almost-graduate from the University of Toronto. I've been working to find self love and happiness for a long time, and I am excited to be sharing some of what I've learned with students across the globe

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