I was sitting around with a group of girlfriends on the weekend and we were talking about how terrible our hangovers were. We’d all been out the night before and we all had varying degrees of hangovers.
One of my friends couldn’t stomach any food.
“At least it’s good for my summer bod,” she said to the group, forcing a laugh.
“Yas!” said another friend. “Hangovers are the quickest way to get our summer bods in check!”
They were kind of joking, but kind of not.
I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve heard a woman brush aside how shitty they feel about their bodies with an “I’m going to start working on my summer bod soon” remark. It’s usually as they reach for an “unhealthy” snack, or as an explanation for deciding to drink wine with friends rather than go to the gym.
But this mention of a “summer bod” between my friends and I got me thinking — what even is a summer body, and why do we all still want one?
I think back to being in high school, and every October, everyone would start talking about getting their summer bodies. I don’t think anyone actually did anything except maybe eating a little less, which we all know isn’t great for your body and mind.
And even then, with eating less food and potentially going on a few more walks, I don’t remember my body looking any different during summer.
The idea of a summer body comes from knowing that summer requires us to wear less clothes and more revealing things, such as bikinis, bathers, short dresses, spaghetti straps and cut-outs. Basically, wanting a “summer bod” implies that we want our bodies to look “better” because they’re going to be on display more.
But what does “better” mean? Unfortunately, it mostly just means thinner. Although we’ve come a long way with our physical ideals of what’s deemed beautiful, with more size diversity and inclusivity happening in major areas of the media and fashion industries, we’ve barely skimmed the surface of dealing with the trauma of being fed unrealistic body types since childhood.
I think it’s about time we changed our mindset. In my view, there is no such thing as a “summer body” as the way it’s so often paraded as a transformation or something that’s being worked towards.
A summer body is your body, unique and special to you, simply during the summer season. It’s the same body you’ve always had, the body that has carried you through your life so far. It’s your vessel and it deserves to be appreciated the way it is. It’s a time when you get to show your body off more, take it to the beach, embrace and celebrate its imperfections.
I know that this mindset is so much easier said and done. We’ve been seeing headlines like “Here Are 5 Supermodel Diets To Try This Summer For the Summer Bod Of Your Dreams” on gossip magazines at supermarket newsstands since we were kids.
It’s only within the last five years that brands like Victoria’s Secret that previously advertised unhealthy body types as the ideal and attempted to normalise insane diets to achieve this aesthetic have been called out for their negative impact on female body image.
With this, it’s pretty understandable that making the mindset change to effortlessly embrace your body in a bikini, but there’s no reason not to try.
This summer, let’s try something new:
Take that bikini out that you’ve never worn because you’re afraid you won’t look hot or that you’ll get too bloated from eating fish ‘n’ chips… and wear it.
Take a picture of yourself in some summer clothes, with an exposed leg or a cute tank top and try to quiet any criticisms that bubble to the surface. Post it on Instagram without a filter.
Start to look at your body as something that you will be with forever, not something that you’re always keen to change. Try to accept that your body, imperfections and all, is yours, and see it as a blessing rather than a curse. Seek out your physical “imperfections” and learn to love them. You can even tell them in the mirror if you want. Sometimes I lovingly stroke my cellulite and tell it that it’s beautiful. It helps.
My overall point is that if you’re always wanting to be something different, you’ll never be truly satisfied with you, and that’s a shame because you’re beautiful, just the way you are.