The Pressures of the “Summer Bod”

There is one thing that can certainly determine the start of summer: a beach day. I went to the beach for what felt like the first time in forever this week after finishing my first-year exams, and although ecstatic, I couldn’t help but feel anxious all day long. It got me thinking, to what extent are these anxieties my own insecurities or an internalized response to an ever-pressuring social standard of finding perfection for summer?

For example: “the summer bod”.

I’d firstly like to say, you’re not alone. You will find that these anxieties are both universal and real. Who can blame us as a generation, we’ve been brought up hooked to social media platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram and VSCO. Users, specifically the famed ‘influencers’, have developed a fine art of creating an unrealistic, heightened sense of reality. I hate to say it, but it’s only natural that we compare ourselves to these perfectly imperfect ideals of how our lives should look and we’re all guilty of doing it. But why do we do it? Because sitting here objectively writing this article, it is easy for me to critique such small-minded behaviour, yet I was doing it this week whilst at the beach. In the moment, my waist wasn’t slim enough and my legs too hairy. If it didn’t look nice in a photo, that’s it, the day didn’t mean anything. It wasn’t until my friend shared her own insecurities that I realised how silly the whole concept of being perfect in time for summer was. To me, she is beautiful which is why it didn’t make sense that she too had insecurities. But maybe she feels the same way about me and in easing her anxieties we had a very eye-opening conversation. 

We reminded ourselves that the photo’s we took that day were a mere extension of the memories we made of celebrating the end of our exams. In ten or even twenty years’ time, we won’t look back at the photos and think Gosh why didn’t I shave my legs because we just won’t care. We will sit back and look at the photos like the ones on the beach, and think about the fond memories that comes with them. We may even get a little sad thinking about how much time we wasted trying to be perfect knowing that perfection is undefinable. Everyone is perfect in their own way. I guess, my conclusion from this conversation is that we should be applying these thoughts not just to photos but to every aspect we get anxious about related to summer. Some people get nervous about wearing short clothes, my response would be to wear whatever you want and do only things that make you happy, after all, it is those memories that are the most valuable and chances are you won’t even remember your outfit in a week’s time. There is far too much pressure surrounding summer that can simply be alleviated when you realise that life is not measured by how perfect your body or your outfit looks, it’s measured by your emotions and memories – and quite often those memories won’t be perfect. So why should you be?

Lastly, be the friend who shares their insecurities. Society is hard these days and it’s not getting any easier out there. If you share an insecurity, you’ll realise just how universal the pressurised feeling of summer is and it is the best way to relieve those tensions. Likely, you’ll have something in common that you can make a joke out of or at least comfort one another. 

Yes, hot summer days are just around the corner but that does not mean we should be demoralised by our inward irrational voices demanding us to be perfect. Because plot twist, perfection is whatever we choose it is. Summer does not have to be anxiety-inducing unless you let it be so. Don’t compare yourself to a photo with a thousand different filters on it and don’t determine plans based on how you look because those aren’t the things that matter about summer. Be thankful and grateful for all the activities the weather has brought instead. I assure you; you’ll have a blast. 

Madeline Cooper

Featured Image Source: Pexels

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