I Don't Care How My Summer Body Looks — And Neither Should You

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women in bikinis

By Sarah Vidal

Why don’t I care how my so-called “summer body” looks? The answer is simple: life is just too short. But that’s not the only reason.

The concept of a “summer body,” a “bikini body,” or even just an “ideal body” is ridiculous.

As humans, we are meant to look different from one another. The truth is, even if we all ate and exercised the same way, there would still be a range and variety of body types all over the world.

So, to expect everyone to achieve the ideal “summer body” is first and foremost, illogical. Besides, why are we shaming people for what they look like at all?

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Why are we telling them that they shouldn’t wear bikinis, crop tops, or booty shorts simply because of their figure? Moreover, why do we buy into the idea that life can truly start when and only when we attain the perfect body?

Live your life now. Summer is a time to celebrate friendships, enjoy the weather, and do things that make you happy. Don’t let society dictate what you can do based on your weight or its concept of a “summer body.”

For the past two years, I have been in and out of treatment for an eating disorder. At my worst, I wholeheartedly believed I couldn’t enjoy life until I attained a smaller body.

During the summer, I would not allow myself to wear a bathing suit and go into the pool. Hence, if I did, I would feel self-conscious the entire time.

I did not allow myself to have a good time, because I was too preoccupied with the thought that my body wasn’t good enough for a bathing suit.

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Consequently, I remember all of the summertime parties — Memorial Day, Fourth of July, birthdays, weddings — all the parties that I felt like I couldn’t enjoy because I was too scared of eating in front of people.

Later on, I remember going on a river cruise to Germany with my family. While exploring those beautiful places, I felt like I was going to collapse from exhaustion and lack of nourishment.

Afterward, I remember going to a cousin’s summer wedding where I cried in the bathroom because I hated the way I looked. I missed out on so much joy, because of the pressure to look perfect.

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Now, before you start saying, “Well, a summer body is a healthy body,” you can just stop. Seriously. Health comes in all shapes and sizes.

Yes, engaging in healthy habits might lead you to weight loss and to a more muscular body. But you can’t expect that to be the case for everyone.

Genes and environmental factors play a huge role in what our bodies end up looking like. Therefore, you should not feel ashamed if this means that your body is slightly bigger or a different shape. Two people of the same weight can — and often do — look totally different.

Overall, I’ve spent too much time waiting for permission to live. And, you know what? I’m tired of it.

This summer, I’m wearing what I want when I want.

I’m going to the pool with my friends and having a great time. I’m going to my cousin’s wedding next month and dancing the night away. And I’m going to have that hot dog at the Labor Day barbecue in September and not think twice about it.

I don’t care how my “summer body” looks and neither should you.

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Sarah Vidal is a writer and graduate student at Fordham University in NYC. Her work focuses on mental health, specifically eating disorders and body image issues.

This article was originally published at Unwritten. Reprinted with permission from the author.