We All Deserve to Wear Bathing Suits on the Beach!

Date: May 24, 2015

For someone struggling with an eating disorder or even for someone in recovery, the summertime temperature increase can also bring an increase in anxiety and body image concerns. In fact, these feelings, in some form or another, are likely invading the minds of most, if not all, of us at the beach this season. Whether they are fleeting thoughts or they remain prominent throughout an entire vacation, they have the potential to ruin what should be an enjoyable experience with friends and family….. But not this time around!

Cosmopolitan, a magazine infamous for cover headlines that promise women they can have flatter stomachs and achieve low calorie diets, just like the featured photoshopped celebrity, recently posted an article titled “12 Things Every Twentysomething Woman Needs to Do to Get a Bikini Body.” I actually came across the article on Facebook, having been shared multiple times by friends involved in eating disorder awareness advocacy. Initially, I thought they were protesting the magazine for writing such an article, but their comments were quite the opposite. Instead, my friends were praising the material, thanking Cosmo for the post. Obviously curious, I read on, and I too was pleasantly surprised. Check out the full article here, or just read my favorite snippets below (edited for language and for inclusion of all sexes because this advice applies to everyone!):

  • Eat what you normally eat because you’re a living human with caloric needs. You are everything you need to be right now. You don’t need to be less or more of it to look good in a bikini. So if you already have balanced eating habits and sometimes want to eat pizza, eat pizza! And if you do want to make changes, do it because you genuinely want to, not because you feel like if you don’t, then you don’t belong in a bathing suit—because that is false.
  • Stop comparing your bathing suit body to someone else’s. Magazines, TV, and movies have given us all this idea that we have to look like supermodels if we want to wear bathing suits and that is just not true!. So let me just tell you right now: None of your friends expect you to look like Gisele or Sean in a bathing suit. They expect you to look like you in a bathing suit because they love you and this beach trip took weeks to plan.
  • Exercise because it keeps you healthy, not because you’re trying to run off your “problem areas.” Exercise is supposed to make you feel good and have endurance, so you don’t run out of breath after you’ve only been swimming for three minutes — both good things! It was not intended to be a punishment. Stop doing that to yourself, please. And while you’re at it…
  • Realize you do not have problem areas. You know that thing (or multiple things) that you hate about your body that keeps it from being as perfect as you’d want it to be? Accept that thing. I know it’s not that easy all the time, but even for a moment, put as much love and compassion into that thing you hate because no one is looking at it and judging it anyway. Promise.
  • Look at beach photos of yourself as a little kid. Even if you feel like you were too heavy or too thin, you would never, ever say that to a child. Plus, look how happy you were then! How crazy lovable is that child? Spoiler: just as crazy lovable as the person you are now.
  • Know that you are more than just your body anyway. You’re also a person who loves water and wants to experience things and deserves to be able to enjoy wearing a bathing suit without worrying if your thighs are touching too often or if your stomach sticks out too far. I really want this for you. And I believe you will get there.

Great job, Cosmo. As a twentysomething person myself, I strongly relate to the article. But, I would argue that the article’s 12 steps could apply to people of ALL ages.

This summer, let yourself live freely! Eat ice cream with your friends because it’s delicious. Go swimming with your kids because, otherwise, you will miss out on that special time with them. Take a walk on the beach without covering up because who cares! It’s too hot for that anyway. Get out there and rock that bathing suit body of yours!

For more reading on summertime self-love, read this Loving Imperfection post, written by McCall Dempsey, founder of Southern Smash, eating disorder awareness advocate, survivor, and dear friend of mine.

photo credit: Seagulls Above the Shore via Creative Commons