It might seem almost unbelievable, but the evidence is clear; the UK is in the middle of a heatwave and we’re all getting some sunshine at last. The temptation to strip off and jump in a pool, go to the beach or just sit in the garden in a bikini may be great, but what stops some women doing just that is the constant stern warnings from everywhere about following pre-summer beach body diets and getting the right body shaping swimsuits.
Is there a perfect ‘beach body’? The backlash against the cult of body-shaming in recent years tells us that everyone is beach body ready, just get a body and take it to the beach. But that doesn’t stop our internal body police from making us feel like only Victoria’s Secret models have the right to expose flesh when the sun is out, and that a beach body should be perfect, with no lumps and bumps, stretch marks, scars or rolls. And let’s face it, how many bodies do you know, over a certain age anyway, that fit the description?
Sliding scale of beach body perfection
So, if like most of us, you’re not a proud owner of the designated perfect beach body, what can you do? Is there a sliding scale of perfection when it comes to female body shapes? So, if you’re no ready for beach exposure, you could always downgrade to a public swimming pool body? At which point does any kind of public exposure of your body become impossible, and you find that you can only aspire to the crying alone in the shower body?
The narrow outlook in the media and elsewhere, and the narrative about women’s bodies, assumes that we are all cookie cutter women, and have the ability and proportions to look exactly the same as each other. Like a kind of Stepford beach body. There’s no room for diversity, or any attempt at real body acceptance, and this can’t be good for our mental health, whatever they tell us about our physical wellbeing.
Beach body shame is very real; a recent study from Flinders University in Australia found that, for women, even imagining trying on swimsuits can bring on a low mood. It’s hardly surprising. Have you ever avoided searching for a new swimsuit because you just couldn’t face it? They aren’t the most forgiving of items and when you’re faced with the pressure of conforming to an unrealistic ideal it can be easier just to throw on the old faithful and cover it with a t-shirt.
The bottom line is, you are ready for the beach right now. Remember the feeling you had as a child when your parents took you to the seaside and you happily stripped off and ran into the water without a thought for whether our bum looked big in your kiddy costume?
Well, although we wouldn’t recommend stripping and running into the water at Blackpool in broad daylight any more, what we do recommend is to try and recreate that feeling of not giving a – well you know.
Life is short, we all have a finite number of trips to the beach while we’re here, so why ruin them worrying about what complete strangers think of your thighs?
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