As summer inches closer and the temperatures rise higher we begin to notice a trend in advertising that focuses intensely on the way we look. From weight loss companies to clothing ads on television, magazines, and social media; the general message we are bombarded with around this time of year is “get your summer body ready”.
If you aren’t well versed in the language of intimidation and shame, allow me to translate what these advertisements are really telling us when they say “get your summer body ready.” What they’re really saying is “You aren’t good enough. You don’t look like these photoshopped images of models (who apparently didn’t look good enough either and that’s why their images had to be airbrushed) and if you want to show up to the beach, or the pool, or any other outdoor summer celebration with your friends and family, wearing something other than a bathrobe without embarrassment, then you simply must purchase (insert weight loss system here) so that you can look good enough to buy (insert overpriced bathing suit company here) all the while comparing yourself to everyone else and finding fault with the way you perceive your body.”
I believe that taking care of yourself is ESSENTIAL to leading a happy life. Exercise and healthy eating is paramount in taking care of your body and, as someone who works in the health and wellness profession, I believe it is something we should all strive to be better at. However, there is a difference between taking care of yourself or even taking pride in making your body as healthy as you can do by making choices that promote well being, and the body shaming and self loathing that we subject ourselves to by buying into the unrealistic body image that the media portrays as the ideal pinnacle of health and beauty.
Instead of complaining about your belly for being a few pounds overweight, give gratitude to your feet for carrying you wherever you need to go.
Instead of damning the wrinkles around your eyes, give thanks to your eyes for allowing you to see your loved ones and take in all the beauty of nature.
Instead of comparing yourself to the edited photos of models on the cover of magazines and trying to emulate their appearance try to emulate the actions of people who live their lives full of compassion, love, and forgiveness.
Here is a little thing I’ve had some of my clients do in the past:
Take an index card or a post it note and write a reminder to “say one thing I love about myself” and place it on your bathroom mirror.
Every time you go into your bathroom to shower, brush your teeth, wash your hands, etc. look at yourself and say one thing ALOUD that you love about yourself. Find something new each time. Slowly start to replace the habit of hating your body to speaking gratitude for it and all that it does to serve you well.
Try this for a week and see if your self-perception and self-worth starts to shift!