Summer is a highly anticipated time for many reasons.
While we could look forward to activities like swimming, hiking, having a picnic, going to summer camp, and city sightseeing, diet culture never fails to remind us what summer is really about: putting on a bathing suit. As far as the diet industry is concerned, people should only be thinking about how close their bodies can get to achieving society’s absurdly unrealistic beauty standards. It’s no wonder that our society is obsessed with chasing the idolized “beach body”.
Allison Milch, Eat With Knowledge dietitian, is passionate about helping clients navigate body image concerns. Allison has openings for nutrition counseling appointments and is typically “in the office” (aka Zoom!) on Mondays and Wednesdays. If you want to schedule an appointment, simply email back and we will get you set up!
She recently wrote this post about challenging the “bikini beach body” fantasy and has lots of great tips to share for wearing a bathing suit. Thank you Allison for this amazing insight!
The term “bikini body” dates back to a 1961 ad campaign by Slenderella International, a chain of weight-loss salons. These ads appeared in popular news outlets such as the New York Times and the Washington Post, which touted a specific physique resembling a plastic feminine doll. By the 1980s, this term appeared in everyday conversation, and it has been pervasive ever since.
Despite many people recognizing the diet industry’s sneaky money-making schemes, the world continues to replay the same body fantasy, year after year. The reality is that the perceived pressure to look a certain way is oppressive. Weight-loss programs know how to flirtatiously lure us in while simultaneously making us feel shameful about our current bodies. It’s upsetting to think that an industry so manipulative becomes a pseudo-companion for many. It’s time we begin challenging this narrative.
Putting on a bathing suit is undoubtedly going to be a challenge for most individuals this season, but we promise it is worth the fight. This guide may help reduce your stress and anxiety before your first beach trip:
- Step 1: Ask yourself: “Do I really believe weight loss is beneficial or am I just trying to change my body because diet culture told me so?” In this power dynamic, think about what the diet industry could gain and what you could lose by trying to achieve an unrealistic thin ideal.
- Step 2: Ask yourself, “What will I be missing out on if I don’t put on a bathing suit this season?” Some enjoyable activities may include swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, and so many more. Also consider how you will not only miss out on making memories, but other people will miss your presence, too.
- Step 3: Purchase a bathing suit that fits your body. Feeling physically comfortable is a huge step towards showing your body respect and care.
- Step 4: Try on the bathing suit. Get accustomed to how your body feels and moves in the suit. Practice wearing it behind closed doors. Then practice wearing it around your home, on a balcony, and/or while laying outside in your backyard. This can help normalize the experience of your body wearing a bathing suit in the warm weather.
- Step 5: Wear the bathing suit in public. Try to surround yourself with supportive individuals who you feel comfortable with. Bring a cover-up, shirt, and/or shorts with you to put on over your suit if you start feeling overwhelmed. Remind yourself that no matter how long you spend in your bathing suit, you challenged yourself to live your life to the fullest.
- Step 6: State the following mantra: “Any body is a ‘beach body'”. Remember that you deserve body liberation and freedom from diet culture every day.
If you need support with body image this summer, we are here for you! Simply email back to inquire about scheduling a nutrition counseling appointment.
Jennifer is a Registered Dietitian and the owner of Eat With Knowledge in Nyack, NY. She is on a mission to help people heal from diets, and find peace and balance with their food choices. She leads a team of dietitians who support the philosophy, “Feel Fabulous about Food!”