Summer Send-Off: Goodbye to the Beach Body Myth
I am both overwhelmed with joy and sentimental gloom in congratulating you on the completion of the school year! As this last blog will be leading us into summer, it is vital to mentally prepare for the prevalence of diet culture and the pressure to fit a certain image during this coming season. While you might hear some individuals lament over their beach body goals, hopefully, this year's series of blogs has taught you that fad diets and the pursuit of weight loss are not only unsustainable but precarious to your mental and physical health.
Similarly, summer can be a triggering time for those healing from an eating disorder or navigating a complicated relationship with their body.
What can be triggering, and how to be kind to yourself and others:
Advertisements encouraging weight loss in order to obtain a beach body
Be thoughtful about what media you consume and consider muting or unfollowing social media accounts that fuel insecurities. Follow accounts that promote size diversity and a healthy relationship to food. There is no body size requisite for enjoying the beach.
Individuals who fast before going to the beach in order to “avoid bloat”
Behaviors like this are often normalized in our culture despite it being unhealthy. Nourish yourself to enjoy your activities to the fullest extent. No one is fun when they are dehydrated and hangy.
Comments such as “I haven’t eaten anything today” often make others feel guilty for going about their regular eating schedule
Make an effort to ignore others' food schedules as every body is different and what someone else consumes does not affect what your body needs.
“I feel fat” perpetuates the false notion that fatness is a feeling and negative
If you are ever tempted to say this statement, I encourage you to question what it is you are actually feeling. Are you uncomfortable in your clothes? Could you put on something looser? Are you bloated? Could you do something gentle to help your digestion (e.g. a yoga child's pose, a slow walk, or a bath)? Did you just consume media that caused you to feel bad about yourself or compare yourself to an unrealistic body?
This summer, I urge you to not perpetuate eating disorder rhetoric and to treat conversations around food and bodies with sensitivity. A joke to you that elevates thinner bodies and stigmatizes larger bodies can be extremely harmful. The community one involves themselves in and the manner in which food is talked about sets the tone for how someone treats themselves. Consistently rejecting diet talk and refusing to partake in fatphobic jokes establishes that you are a safe individual that a friend could confide in if they were struggling with disordered eating.
I also recommend asking yourself, what does health mean to you? If individuals express that their drastic food restrictions are for health purposes, that should still be alarming. Keep in mind the holistic nature of health. No matter how much kale, smoothies, or supplements you consume, you will never be healthy in the depths of an eating disorder. Being aware of the normalization of disordered eating in our culture is one of the biggest protectors from an eating disorder. Becoming critical of diet culture has allowed me to understand the toxicity of being exposed to negative language around food. Someone who suggests “going on a walk to burn off what we just ate” is a big red flag for me. No matter how someone intends for these comments to come off, they are influenced by and continue to uphold diet culture.
As I offer these tips, I understand that banning diet culture from your life is not an easy feat. I have and continue to work on mourning the thin ideal. Our culture is so obsessed with looks, it requires a process of grieving the pursuit of weight loss. Once weight loss is no longer sought after, you can finally dedicate yourself to your own definition of health, your relationships, your passions, and your values that exist so far away from your physical appearance.
Thank you to everyone who has followed the evolution of these blogs. I hope this series can serve as motivation to rid your life of dieting and seek support if you are struggling with an eating disorder. I promise life feels a lot bigger and plenty more hopeful when you stop worrying about nutrition labels, measuring food, or looking towards a scale to determine your worth.
Personally, I am starting graduate school in the Fall to become a Licensed Professional Counselor. I hope to continue this work of destigmatizing mental health and criticizing the many guises of diet culture.
I wish you a lovely summer.
https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/wellness/g35564820/body-positivity-instagram-accounts/ https://www.alsana.com/blog/how-to-maintain-eating-disorder-recovery-during-summer/ https://www.emilyprogram.com/blog/eating-disorders-in-college-students/ https://seedsofhope.pyramidhealthcarepa.com/summer-eating-disorder-triggers-how-to-cope/ https://www.centralcoasttreatmentcenter.com/blog-1/eating-disorders-body-image-summer-seasonal-affective-disorder
Food Psych with Christy Harrison
Rebel Eaters Club with Virgie Tovar
The Eating Disorder Recovery Podcast with Tabitha Farrar
Take the Cake with Kate Noel
Maintenance Phase with Michael Hobbes and Aubrey Gordon
She’s All Fat with April Quioh and Sophia Carter-Kahn
More Than A Body by Lexie Kite and Lindsay Kite
The Body is Not An Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor
You Have The Right To Remain Fat by Virgie Tovar
Lessons from the Fat-o-sphere by Kirby Marianne and Kate Harding
Intuitive Eating by Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole
Health At Every Size by Lindo Bacon