Summer has been a little different for me this year.
For the first time since I can remember, I have not been on a ‘diet’, starting a ‘health kick’ or wanting to get a little bit ‘leaner’. In fact, whilst enjoying London’s late August heat, I was not feeling in any way anxious about whether my body was at all ‘summer ready’.
As many young girls can relate to, I have spent countless years fretting and frowning upon my appearance in a bikini. When the summer sun would begin to appear, with its promise of beach holidays and skimpier clothing, the fear would knot in my stomach and I would feel the desperate need to better my appearance.
“I went through all this suffering just to possess an enviable body, for an Instagram worthy bikini shot which I usually didn’t like enough to post anyway.”
I would dive headfirst into gruelling workouts and super healthy eating plans, all in the hope of attaining defined abs and toned thighs. I would become anxious about special occasions, paralysed by the thought of a slice of birthday cake. I avoided social outings and became exhausted by pushing myself too hard at the gym. I went through all this suffering just to possess an enviable body, for an Instagram worthy bikini shot which I usually didn’t like enough to post anyway.
However, this year I decided enough was enough and despite my lack of interest in monitoring my food intake or pushing myself into punishing workouts, I’m feeling my healthiest, happiest and most confident yet! So I wanted to share with you the reasons why I’ve not been getting ‘summer ready’ this year…
1. It’s Not Healthy
There is a reason that diets or summer health kicks are usually short-lived. Cutting calories and working out excessively is usually exhausting, unsustainable and simply not good for you. Nowadays, I’m a big believer in listening to you body; I realise that my desire to clean up my diet and work harder at the gym was never really anything to do with my health. It was neither kind to my body nor my mind and would usually leave me feeling miserable and frustrated. In my experience, living with a diet-mentality and restricting your food is not only physically damaging but extremely mentally unhealthy too. So this year I’ve put my mental health at the top of my priority list. I can honestly say that the sense of freedom and happiness I have gained is so much more important than my body fat percentage or how many likes I have on my beachside Instagram shot.
“I realise that my desire to clean up my diet and work harder at the gym was never really anything to do with my health”
2. It’s Time to Reinvent Beauty Standards.
Healthy bodies come in all different shapes and sizes, and I no longer agree with the idea that in order to be attractive we need to look a certain way. As women, we are always taught we should want to be smaller and thinner, with endless media sources brainwashing society into defining women by their bodies. As a feminist I am not okay with that, and I have finally been able to understand that I’m no less worthy or beautiful because of the shape or size I am. It’s time to reinvent the beauty standards we’ve become accustomed to and to realise that real beauty comes from individuality and confidence. Not to mention that there are simply way more important things in life than worrying about being thin.
I have finally been able to understand that I’m no less worthy or beautiful because of the shape or size I am.
3. Making Memories is Way More Important
In losing my need to control my appearance, I have finally allowed myself to see the true value of the memories I will make this summer. I can’t believe I was ever so brainwashed as to prioritise getting a good bikini picture over my general happiness. Summer has always been my favourite time of year, full of late nights in warm beer gardens, festivals and other celebrations. I’m not saying I don’t love how it feels to workout hard and eat nourishing food but I don’t want either of these things to stop me enjoying spending quality time with my family or friends. Whether they want ice cream on a sunny afternoon or cocktails at a rooftop bar, spending time with the people I love is far more important than any effects it might have on my body.
I don’t know about you but I’m sick and tired of worrying about whether my thighs touch together, my belly looks bloated, or my body is at all ‘summer ready’. It’s time once and for all that we learn to put our mental health first and value other aspects of our lives over our physical appearance. It’s time we stopped living our lives in pursuit of an unrealistic standard of beauty. It’s time to realise that these expectations have come from living in a society that profits from our self-doubt. It’s time to embrace that healthy, beautiful, bikini bodies really do come in all shapes and sizes, and that true beauty comes from within.