Most people I know have a love-hate relationship with summer. For one thing, the season brings more free time for many of us, whether we’re on school vacation or taking a lot of our hard-earned PTO. Plus, the abundance of activities available to occupy those extra hours of sunshine—swimming, grilling, spending entire days outdoors without multiple layers of clothing—make getting out of the house much easier.
On the less bright side, summer is loaded with body image triggers. Clothing is more revealing (because who wants to wear pants and long sleeves when it’s over 80 degrees?). Social events like weddings and barbecues can make you feel exposed (and probably put you in front of cameras more often than usual). And despite the growing movement toward body acceptance, there’s still a lot of cultural pressure to « slim down for summer. » (Ugh.)
Although many of these triggers are unavoidable, it is possible to manage them in a way that allows you to enjoy the sunny season without a constant cloud of self-critical thoughts hovering over you. SELF asked four experts to share their top tips on how to handle a bad body image day this summer.
1. Know that bad body image days — when you feel uncomfortable or distressed about your body — are bound to happen, and that’s okay.
« I would say it’s rare, if not impossible, to come across someone who feels confident and satisfied with their body 100% of the time. Summer can be really tough because, with more social events and less clothing, there are more opportunities for others to perceive our bodies than during other seasons Increased self-judgment is a normal and expected reaction when we have been socialized to believe that our value comes from what we look like or, more precisely, how others perceive our appearance. But know this: your value is not determined by your appearance, and if there are days when you feel bad about your body or are more critical of your appearance, you are not alone. —Serena NangiaColorado Springs-based speaker and owner of the body activistsa group that fights against weight stigma, narrow body standards and body oppression
2. Challenge your negative thoughts about body image and try to reframe them.
“If you start to have negative feelings about your body, try a cognitive challenge (a cognitive-behavioral therapy technique): pay attention and catch yourself thinking or saying unpleasant things about your body and body. his abilities. Rephrase, reframe, and rename anything that includes language of judgment, resentment, or disdain.
An example: You are shopping for a swimsuit. You try it on, and as soon as you look in the mirror, your face wrinkles and you think, UGH, I hate my height, or, I wish I looked different. As you recognize yourself having these thoughts, immediately follow up with something like, My body has done some truly amazing things, I’m proud of the things my body has allowed me to do, or whatever. another word that shows kindness and compassion towards yourself. Think of it as a quick love letter to your body. The premise of cognitive behavioral therapy is that changing what you say and think can eventually change how you feel. —Danielle Flint, LMSWfounder of Imani ya Kupinga (which roughly translates to « faith in resistance » in Swahili), a therapy and counseling practice in Southfield, Michigan
3. Or, instead of trying to “fix” your bad body image thoughts, do what you can to feel more comfortable in the moment.
“One approach to poor body image days that I really enjoy is figuring out how to make my body feel safer and more grounded by exploring my sensory needs. For example, if I feel bad about my body, I could try putting on my favorite loose t-shirt and soft shorts or sweatpants.It may not change how I feel about my size or body shape, but it does allow me to detach myself from distress enough to focus on something enjoyable like watching TV or talking with friends.Mimi Cole, LPC-MHSPa Nashville-based therapist and host of The Pretty Podcast of Becoming
4. Find summer clothes that fit you and don’t blame yourself if something you try doesn’t work.
“Does the idea of buying new summer clothes make you anxious? Or maybe you feel guilty that last year’s wardrobe didn’t fit you and you’re afraid to face the reality of your new size. Wherever you land in these scenarios, shopping for summer outfits can be daunting, especially when you feel your body has to adjust to the latest styles on the rack. It is essential to recognize that it is not you; it’s them! Fashion trends are constantly changing and historically neglect the needs (and sizes) of the average consumer.