From Our Readers
June 30, 2015 2:28 pm

Every year as the summer heats up, the pressure to be “bikini ready” also increases. Rather than encouraging women to embrace their bodies, we are measured against the same Photoshopped body on the cover of magazines everywhere. It can seems as though summer is not so much about enjoying warm weather, gathering up with loved ones, and exploring new places, but is instead about how good you look in a swimsuit.

This is a message that has been perpetuated in the media for a long time, and one that has effected my own experience of summer for as long as I can remember. I have spent many summers avoiding outings and gatherings with friends simply because I didn’t think I was good enough to show my body in a swimsuit.  

Having missed out on so many summer events, I decided to break the cycle of shame and fear in regards to my body. This summer I am not letting fear of showing my body in a swimsuit hold me back from having awesome experiences with people I love. You know how you have a perfect bikini body? You put a bikini on your body. It can be tough to remember, but the diversity of bodies out there is an incredible, wonderful thing, not something to be ashamed of. Whatever size you are, and whatever you want to wear to the beach, here are some ways to keep body positive this summer. 

Embrace the body you have

Seriously: skinny, curvy, short, tall. The human form is amazing, and it takes all different shapes. Find a bathing suit or sundress or pair of shorts that you love and feel good in, and flaunt what you’ve got. Feel your look, and embrace the person you are. The ways that you differ from the Photoshopped ideal? Those are features and not flaws.

Do a social media cleanse

This is the time when my Instagram feed begins to fill up with images of celebrities in bikinis, and people with six-packs. Rather than spend my free time scrolling through pictures that have me in a state of self-hatred and comparison, I realized I have control over who I follow and what images I’m subjecting myself to online. Whenever a picture pops up that has me questioning my own self-worth, I unfollow that person. Social media is meant to be a platform of entertainment and connection, don’t use it as a way to shame yourself and judge yourself for not looking like some stranger on the internet.

I also encourage you to go a step further and start following people who embrace body diversity. Exposure therapy is the best way to improve your sense of self-worth. Though the media tends to focus on women of a certain size, the truth is in every day life we see gorgeous people of every size. Allow your social media platforms to show that as well. Following bathing suit models of different shapes is a great way to recognize you can rock a bathing suit at any size!

Get rid of clothes that don’t fit

Buying and wearing clothes that actually fit you is an incredible experience. Forget about the number on the label: It doesn’t mean anything anyway. If you are someone who is holding on to an old pair of jean shorts that you haven’t been able to fit into in years, get rid of them! Letting go of clothes that don’t fit allows you to keep your focus on things that make you look and feel better. Having those old jeans glaring at you from your closet each day can be draining and disheartening. Let them go, throw them out, donate them, but don’t let them waste any more of your precious energy. Wear and rock clothes that fit, you will feel and look so much better.

Send yourself some love!

Affirmations have been a huge part of letting go of negative self-talk and embracing the beauty I have within me. I have found writing things like “I am beautiful” on my mirror can help switch the reflex in my mind from “EW I look so bad!” to “Hey, I look really great today!” It’s a simple step to send yourself love, in a world that often has us focusing on what’s wrong with us. These subtle affirmations can seep into your subconscious and completely rewrite the story you have about yourself. The truth is, you are amazing and beautiful and you have every right to flaunt and own that!

This season is about enjoying, celebrating, and connecting! Don’t get caught into the trap of using summer as a way to send yourself negative messages, and put yourself down. Join me on a self-love revolution and let’s take back summer together.

Ashley Forrer is a certified yoga teacher, blogger, light worker and adventure seeker.You can follow her wellness journey on her blog ashleyforrerwellness.com or get a peak into her current adventures in nature and the kitchen on Instagram @ashleyforrerwellness, Twitter @ashleyforrer and Facebook.

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[Image via Tess Holliday’s Sea by Monif C. ad campaign]

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