Make it a summer of self-love, and be body positive this season

By in Opinions

The snow has finally melted, but the excitement for summer nights in Saskatoon can be overshadowed by the pressure to have this season’s perfect body. The notion of an archetypal summer body is fake news — we all deserve the opportunity to feel the sun on our skin without being body shamed.

The societal pressure to lose weight is not something that is exclusive to the summer season, however, it is intensified around this time of year. It’s hard not to be self-conscious whilst we’re out sun tanning on patios or posing for holiday bikini snaps.

I know people who diet and exercise at this time of year because they believe it is the only way they can feel comfortable in their own skin, especially when they get into their bikinis.

It can be really difficult to stay body positive when articles which shame celebrities for their weight gain, scars, acne and body hair are so inherent to our culture. However, as someone who has experienced body-image issues, I can tell you that there is not a magic weight you can reach that will ensure you’ll feel content with your physical appearance.

We all have imperfections that we get anxious about exposing to the world. The summer-body philosophy tells us that we could always be more lean. Nevertheless, body positivity is not something that comes from looking to the scales. It is something that comes from not only loving your body but also appreciating the bodies of every other human being.

The thin, hairless and unblemished bodies that we see glamorized in popular culture do not account for the realities of real-life people. A study on advertising and the cult of thinness found that the body type we see in advertisements — as acceptable or desirable — is one that fewer than five per cent of women have.

Of course, eating well and exercising regularly are conducive to a healthy lifestyle, but the scrutiny of our weight often determines our worth as human beings. We frequently praise people for extreme weight loss. It makes me uncomfortable when someone comments on somebody else’s weight in this way.

When people in our lives lose a significant amount of weight, rather than asking if everything is okay we say: “Wow you look so good — you’ve lost so much weight! What’s your secret?”

In my personal experience, I have found that dramatic weight loss can be a symptom of an underlying issue or problematic eating. I implore people to stop using “you’ve lost weight” as a compliment, as it further supports the narrative that bodily fat should always be understood as a negative attribute.

The summer-body rhetoric tries to police what is and isn’t acceptable for us to wear in the summer. The size of our bodies should not dictate what kind of clothing we should wear. The ownership of leggings or crop tops should not be limited to certain types of bodies. Our bodies are routinely scrutinized, criticized and judged; however, what ultimately matters is that we are healthy and happy.

Do not let the talk of being beach body ready deter you from enjoying summer festivities. After months of wearing ugly sweaters from Value Village and snow boots, it is finally warm enough for us to show our skin, and we should enjoy every single second of it regardless of our size, stretchmarks and scars. After a hard semester, we deserve to enjoy some pints and poutine on patios without worrying about the caloric impact.

Marianne Holt

Graphic: Jayme Stachyruk / Graphics Editor