Garden furniture is being dusted off. Picnic baskets are being packed. Holidays are being booked. This can all only mean one thing; summer is coming.
There’s a certain happiness that sunshine and longer daylight bring, allowing us to spend time outdoors in the fresh air and feel the warmth on our skin. But this also gives us an expectation that we need to start putting in some work to change our physical appearance and get our bodies ready—whatever the fuck that means.
Like many women I know, I’ve recently had the chaotic panic of rummaging through my wardrobe while frantically shaking my head and feeling like I couldn’t wear anything that I owned. All because it hugged my mid-riff or flashed some cellulite and stretch marks. For as long as I can remember, I’ve dreaded the summer due to being uncomfortable in my own body, yet excited for winter because I could hide away in thick jumpers and scarves.
In theory, I know this sounds ridiculous. If these words were coming to me from a friend, I’d laugh, give them a huge hug, and tell them to shake it off like Taylor Swift taught us to do. In reality, we all know it’s much easier said than done. I’ve been feeling this automatic shame since I was a teenager. As much as I’m making baby steps towards self-love, it’s hard to break the bad habits of constant self-loathing overnight. I can already admit to not having a mentally good start to this summer.
There’s also toxic diet culture that we’re faced with too often at this time of year. Intentionally by gyms and diet pills, and unintentionally by friends and co-workers in the office who are consumed with talking about what they’re doing to get their summer body ready and how you should try it too.
If someone is recommending these things to me without my prompt, it then plants a seed of self-doubt that I, too, should be doing something to change.
If you find yourself in one of these situations, you have every right to politely say thanks but no thanks. Don’t feel as though you need to make what’s right for them, right for you too. If you’re reading this thinking that you might be the one preaching, take a second to think before speaking about this topic. You don’t know how the receiver might be feeling at that moment.
I’m in no way saying that exercise and a healthy diet should be boycotted. We all know it’s important to look after ourselves in some way physically, mentally, and spiritually. But it shouldn’t consume us and take over our lives or stop us from making memories.
You don’t need to get physically ready to enjoy the summer.
This is your reminder that you do not need to wait for your body to look a certain way before wearing an item of summer clothing. Or any clothing for that matter. At any time of year. Wear what you want and flaunt your beautiful self. You deserve it.