As the weather gets warmer and summer approaches, many struggle with body image. Oftentimes, social media feeds are filled with influencers promoting workout plans and diets for a “summer body” or a “beach body”. The idea of a “summer body” is used by the diet industry to profit off of people’s insecurities. This can be extremely damaging. Messages such as these convey the message that shorts and bathing suits are only for one type of body, which is entirely untrue.

Body positivity and body neutrality movements have made leaps in creating acceptance for bodies in all shapes and sizes. The body positivity movement focuses on equality and acceptance of all body types and sizes. Body neutrality involves focusing on all that your body does for you as opposed to its physical appearance. However, the idea of getting one’s body “ready” for summer is still deeply rooted in society. Ultimately, it is up to advertisers and influencers to stop prompting damaging ideas that one needs to prepare their body for summer. However, there are ways to cope while struggling with body image.

The body neutrality movement began to steer away from the connection between physical appearance and self-worth emphasized by the body positivity movement. However, both movements can be used in conjunction. One day you may feel confident and love your body. Another day you may struggle with appearance, but still appreciate all that your body does for you, and that is okay. Body positivity movements help to endorse strong self-esteem, loving one’s body, and caring for one’s body. Body neutrality movements can help you focus on what your body can do for you, practice mindfulness, and view your body as a vessel.

Cleansing your social media feed can be a powerful tool. Following influencers that promote inclusivity and diversity can help to raise self-esteem. If there is an account that is making you feel bad about yourself, unfollow them. When it comes to exercise, try to find ways to move your body that bring you enjoyment. Breaking the connection between exercise and weight loss can be extremely difficult. However, it can feel freeing. Often, we are inundated with messages about how our bodies are “supposed” to look, which can make it difficult to determine what sparks joy for you. Try to work on finding activities that make you happy. At the end of the day, you do not need to get your body “ready” for summer. You deserve to feel comfortable and confident in your own skin.

By: Julia Cornman, EAP Counselor Intern