Your Body Already Is a “Summer Body” - Humantold

Your Body Already Is a “Summer Body”

Juli Walchuk, MHC-LP June 20, 2023

With warmer weather comes a flurry of messages about losing weight before you hit the beach…here’s how to resist those diet culture traps!

You’ve no doubt stood in the checkout line at the grocery store surrounded by glossy magazines with headlines like “Lose Belly Fat in Just 20 Days” or “Get Your Body Bikini-Ready by Summer!” And it's not just at the store; these days, we're constantly bombarded with such messages on the internet and social media. To make matters worse, there's always that one relative who can't resist commenting on your weight every time you see them. We live in a culture obsessed with appearance so it’s not surprising that many people (of all genders) struggle with their body image. 

With summer around the corner, these messages about weight loss and dieting ramp up but below are some tips for resisting this harmful messaging and embracing your body exactly as it is. 

What is diet culture? 

First, let’s define diet culture and understand how pervasive it is. Diet culture is a belief system that places undue importance on physical appearance over actual wellness, usually with a focus on weight loss. It may involve labeling foods as good or bad, restricting eating altogether, promoting excessive exercise regimens, and idolizing thinness. The diet industry is a multi-billion-dollar business and diet culture often operates under the guise of health, stating that people must lose weight or change their bodies to be healthy. Unfortunately, this conflation of weight and health not only moralizes weight loss but also perpetuates anti-fat attitudes.

This ties to many other sociological concepts, such as fatphobia, which refers to the negative stereotypes around, fear of, and discrimination against people in larger bodies. On the flip side, thin privilege refers to the unearned social and practical advantages granted to people in smaller bodies. Furthermore, this system of privilege and oppression is influenced by racial and cultural biases. Within a society obsessed with thinness, weight becomes weaponized, granting certain individuals more social capital while denying and dehumanizing others. The implications of this extend far and wide.

How can we fight diet culture? 

While diet culture is pervasive, there are practical steps we can take to resist it and to start loving and embracing our bodies exactly as they are now: 

  • Appreciate all of the things your body enables you to do. Consider the activities, hobbies, and tasks that you may often overlook or take for granted. Perhaps you can play the piano, climb the stairs to your fifth-floor walk-up apartment, play a sport that brings you joy, or simply breathe in the fresh air. 

  • Get in tune with your body. This can be done through joyful movement, deep breathing, or engaging in a body scan. Also, develop an awareness of your body’s hunger, thirst, and fatigue cues. The practice of intuitive eating can help with reconnecting to your body’s needs.

  • Reflect on the qualities your body possesses outside of how it looks. Consider its strength, flexibility, balance, and resilience.

  • Buy and wear clothing that makes you feel confident.

  • Be intentional about your social media engagement. Unfollow people or pages that perpetuate diet culture. You can even adjust your settings on Instagram to block weight loss-related ads! 

  • Engage with media that is inclusive and features people of all body sizes and shapes. 

  • Understand where your body negativity comes from; interrogate whether that influence stems from family members, peers, or celebrities – and assess whether those messages align with your values. 

  • Explore the body neutrality and body positivity movements. Body neutrality involved shifting your mindset from negative to neutral, letting go of feelings of body hatred or disgust; this is a great first step towards fostering a healthier relationship with your body. Body positivity takes that even further and encourages acceptance, appreciation, and love for your body while challenging conventional beauty standards.

  • If you are experiencing disordered eating or are struggling with body image issues, seek support from a therapist that specializes in these issues or join a support group. 

Our culture has conditioned us to compare, criticize, and manipulate our bodies in the pursuit of thinness, but even subtle mindset shifts and actions can lead to more acceptance and self-love. 

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