Beth Stebner
Updated June 19, 2015
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Here’s an idea: What if we totally did away with the phrase “beach body“? What if we just decided, you know what magazines and mainstream media? Bodies are bodies! And we shouldn’t have to change those bodies just to be ready for swimsuit season.

In a new poll conducted by Refinery29, the website asked a selection of 1,000 millennial women (aka women born between 1981 and 1997) to reveal what they really think about their bodies, and the numbers are, well, kind of sobering.

According to the survey, only 54% of respondents said they’re actually happy with their bodies, with a slim 7% saying that they’re totally happy with them. And 80% of those asked said that they would probably skip out on an activity because they felt self-conscious about the way their body looked.

Our opinion? That’s no way to live. Let’s take back our bodies, because whether we’re on the beach or at the library or hiking the Andes these are our bodies. No two look identical, and we shouldn’t have to change them to meet someone else’s beauty standards.

As a millennial woman myself I know that I need to take this advice too. I feel constantly bombarded with images and articles on how to get the perfect “beach-ready” bod for the summer. My inbox is usually filled with pitches on how to do away with cellulite (using an expensive cream, of course!) or how to tone up my wobbly bits. This obviously leaves me stressing about areas on my body I’ve never even thought about before.

It’s also 100% impossible to go to on the Internet without being shown at least 10 articles of some celebrity “flaunting their curves” or showing off their “bikini bod.” But that’s not how I want to be either. My body is my body, no qualifier or adjective necessary.

I’ve been a lot of different sizes in my life. My freshman 15 was more like a freshman 25 thanks to my obsession with chocolate pretzels and the better-than-it-should-be pasta bar. Later on, I joined a sports team and became more serious about my health, and I lost it all, and then some. But here’s the thing – no matter what my size or weight, my body has always been beach-ready. Women never “lose” their bikini bodies, nor do they really ever gain them back.

The hardware we’re given at birth is kind of what we have throughout life, so why not embrace it, and learn to love those bits, rather than looking at them with shame?

It’s alarming that so many young women have been on at least a few diets in their short lifetimes, and most of that fuelled by the desire to conform to a standard that is utterly unobtainable outside the world of 24-7 dieting and Photoshop.

The danger with buying into the “bikini bod” ethos shilled out by women’s magazines is that your worth is somehow tied into how “good” you look in a bikini. That’s totally ridiculous.

Of course, being healthy, exercising, and eating right all play into feeling great, but the idea that women feel like they can’t have a carefree day at the beach until they look like Heidi Klum is crazy.

We say, embrace your body in all of its many shapes and forms. And always remember that your body is one-of-a-kind, and what makes it special is that its yours. No one should make you feel bad about it. Not ever.

[Image via Shutterstock]