There’s nothing like summer to turn our nagging body image worries into full-blown issues, with the pressure it heaps on women every year to not just attain a “bikini body,” but to confidently rock that bikini body up and down the shoreline like we’re Kate Upton in a Sports Illustrated cover shoot.
Thing is, only a tiny percentage of the whole of womankind has Kate Upton’s body. But does that mean women with other body types can’t go rocking up and down the shoreline like Kate Upton does? Hell no! As the timeless adage goes, “To get a bikini body, put a bikini on your body.” (It’s like, way famous. Look it up.)
Here, we list down ways you can love your own body despite the pressures to fit a narrow standard of sexiness that are set to get all up in our faces this summer, from TVCs to our IG feeds.
Go on, look at your naked self in the mirror. The more you look at your bare body, the more you’ll be able to accept the parts that you don’t like so much, and the more you’ll fall in love with the parts that you do like.
2. Know the things you love about your body, and flaunt them.
You may have the chest of a 12-year-old boy, but you have the cutest bubble butt ever created, so get in those ass-hugger shorts! Flaunt your best features instead of worrying about your weak ones, and watch your self-confidence skyrocket when you see how good you look.
3. Don’t force yourself into clothes that you don’t feel good in.
We’re all for being confident, but if that string bikini is only going to make you aware of every ounce of fat on your body, ditch it and go for something you actually feel foxy in. Beach trips are supposed to make you happy, not hide behind your friends when it’s time to take a picture.
4. Stop comparing your body to other women’s bodies.
Sometimes we can’t help but think, “If my boobs were as big as hers, I’d be able to keep this bandeau bikini from slipping” or “If I had her abs, I wouldn’t be doing all these sit-ups.” If you can’t avoid these thoughts, give yourself permission to entertain them for only a few seconds, after which you turn your attention to yourself and what makes YOU hot.
5. Dish compliments, not criticisms.
Don’t be that person who gets offended by jabs about her looks, yet turns around and does the same thing to someone else. Instead, be so generous with compliments, you dish them out to a friend who just got a new haircut, a random acquaintance who posts a beach selfie, or a complete stranger you got to share an elevator ride with. You just might make someone’s day, and keep that loop of compliment-giving going from you to them to the people they encounter to the entire planet! (A stretch, but wouldn’t that be awesome?!)
6. If it helps, unfollow social media accounts that make you feel bad about your body.
You don’t have to torture yourself with daily reminders that you don’t have Kendall’s waist or Kylie’s butt. Unfollow whoever’s making you feel bad about your body, whether it’s a brand account that parades ridiculously Photoshopped models or some girl whose bikini photos make you feel like you have no right to be in one. They won’t even notice.
7. Instead, follow role models who prove that looking good does not equate to being a size zero.
8. Exercise to feel good and be healthy.
Newsflash: Exercise isn’t only for losing weight. It makes you happy, it relieves stress, it improves your brain health, it gives you good skin, and knowing that you’re doing a good thing for your body does wonders for your body image. If you work out only to lose weight, you might end up disappointed when you don’t lose the pounds you expected to shed. But if you do it simply to be healthy and happy, you’ll always be a winner.
9. Forgive yourself on the days you feel less-than-stellar about your body.
Since you were little, you’ve been hounded by messages that make you feel that you are not truly beautiful until you are a fair-haired, light-skinned, big-chested waif, so no wonder there are days when you’re still not sold on your own beauty. The important thing is that you forgive yourself for having these feelings, shake off all that negative self-talk, and say, “Not today, Satan!!!”
10. Appreciate everything your body does for you.
Real talk: Without your body and its glorious mechanisms, you wouldn’t be able to walk or run, eat or breathe, have orgasms or make babies, and all that vital stuff. Now, stop putting your body down and give it what it deserves: a full-body massage, a luxurious bath with candles and rose petals, and lots and lots of love.