For anyone with a questionable relationship to their body, summer can be rough. As we peel off the thick layers of winter clothing, it’s not just skin that gets exposed, but all of our insecurities too. Even so, we’re not here to sell you on the newest trick to get a perfect bikini body or to tell you how to lose weight fast for your upcoming vacation. What we do have is a reminder to love your body at any size and a few tips on how to do just that.
Acknowledge That We All Have Our Issues
Whether you’re a size 0 or a size 20, loving your body can be hard. Women are constantly subjected to an unrealistic model of perfection, from highly edited magazine photos to pervasive diet culture. No woman is immune to these pressures. Many guys aren’t either, even if their experience with it is a little different from ours.
When we realize that everyone has their issues, it allows us to be more gentle with ourselves and others. And that’s important. Beating ourselves up for not having the perfect body, or even for the feelings we experience around that, doesn’t do anyone any good.
Let Go of the Idea that Happiness is Tied to Body Type
For many of us, it’s hard to shake the idea that happiness is just 10 (or 20 or 30 or 5) pounds away. The truth is, happiness and weight are not necessarily linked, at least not in the way you’d think.
But even happiness is not a guarantee of a skinner self, and most people can be happy or miserable at any size. So why not cultivate your happiness right now, regardless of your body?
Fake It ‘Til You Make It
While most of our insecurities may have started from external sources, they’ve become internalized over time. We may not even realize the negative things we think and say about our own bodies.
One way to move toward body acceptance is to engage in positive self-talk. Pay attention to negative thoughts about your body. Question them and respond with a positive spin. You don’t even have to believe yourself at first – experts say that the repeated practice of saying good things can help to reprogram our brains in a positive way.
Consider all the ways that your body serves you. Are your legs strong and healthy, and do they carry you through your day? Do your arms – skinny or flabby – allow you to embrace your friends and family? Does your body enable you to connect and find pleasure with other people (or even just yourself) through sex?
Everyone has – or should have – at least one outfit that makes them feel strong, powerful, sexy, and confident. The same goes for the beach.
If you’re already unsure of your appearance, settling for swimwear that’s just okay will just make you feel even more self-conscious at the beach. So find a swimsuit that you adore and that you love to wear. Then go and do just that.
Get More Tattoos
We know we’re biased, but tattoos really do help with body positivity (in fact, you can read all about the link in our article here).
Tattoos are more than just an expression of our individuality. They give us control over the image that we put forth into the world, and that control is key to empowerment and embracing our self-worth. In 2015, a study of nearly 2,400 college students found that women with four or more tattoos had much higher self-esteem than their less-inked peers.
That’s the kind of science we can really get behind. And if you need some inspiration for your new ink, be sure to check out the Tattooed Women Gallery, where real women of all sizes and shapes have shared their tattoos.