Photo Credit: Women's Running

Your body is already a “Summer Body.” (Op-Ed)

I am sick of seeing advertisements highlighting weight loss products that “inspire” women to get their “Summer Body.” There is a harmful perception that your body is not “ready” for summer (i.e. to be displayed in public) unless your stomach is flat; this is rooted in fatphobic rhetoric that shames women for their natural bodies. I have fallen victim to the “Summer Body” trend, and it has harmful consequences. First, women resort to diets, and calorie deficits, which sometimes leads to full-blown eating disorders. Second, it teaches women to hate their bodies and feel that they are not worthy of wearing a bikini that exposes stretch marks, tummies, or cellulite. We need a culture of body positivity, not hate.

I am done trying to achieve an unrealistic “Summer Body.” My body is ready for summer because I say it is, and I will not avoid going to the pool, lake, or beach for fear that someone will judge my body. I am not ashamed of my body, and you shouldn’t be ashamed of yours.

These harmful trends stem from body shaming, misogyny, classism, heterosexism, and racism. Dominique Fluker writes, “With terms like ‘Summer Body’ and ‘Unbig Your Back,’ Black women, in particular, are being told that their bodies, just the way they are, aren’t good enough and are undesirable, which leads them to contort themselves into something that isn’t who they are.” Many of the ads featured show plus size Black women as the “before” and thin white women as the desirable outcome. This is an intersectional problem backed by a multibillion-dollar diet industry; women of all races, ethnicities, sexualities, and economic statuses are impacted, as well as people of other genders.

Power of Plus, an online body-acceptance program, co-creator Shammara Lawrence says it best. “All the brands and magazines who push this summer body ideal — flat stomach, curves in the ‘right’ places, toned legs, flawless skin — are essentially saying is anyone who doesn’t fit that aforementioned mold isn’t worthy of being seen once the temperatures start rising, so we need to alter ourselves to live up to this narrow standard,” Lawrence explains. “I think it’s incredibly harmful to tell people year after year that they need to lose weight for the summer in order to have fun and get attention and praise from people for the way you look.”

Your body is already a “Summer Body” just the way it is. Do not let unrealistic beauty standards hold you back from summer fun.

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