This Summer, Don't Forget That Your Body Already IS A 'Beach Body'

by Nikkya Hargrove
Scary Mommy and Sophie Mayanne/Getty

At some point in our lives, we’ve all been there. We’ve longed for summer, and with that longing often comes a desire to get into shape. Bathing suits are on display weeks ahead of time, when not even the weather has a chance to get beach ready. Dieting commercials and social media ads seem to increase, also trying to sell us a bathing suit.

There are diet plans that promise a beach body on demand — but for one, there is no such thing as a “beach body,” and hell no you can’t get that “on demand.” That is not the way the body works. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve watched my fair share of keto diet videos on Instagram. I’ve downloaded and then deleted fitness apps that I had every intention of using every single day (but I did not). And you don’t have to either. Give yourself permission to live and enjoy this summer — just as you are.

We live in a culture which pushes diet fads, products, and opportunities to “get fit” all year long. The industry amps up marketing in the weeks leading into summer, as if they are trying to get us to buy toys for Christmas.

But we are enough. Our bodies are enough. We don’t need to believe in the promises of diet pills, or that we will feel better if we lose those extra “stubborn pounds.” What will almost certainly make us feel better is loving and accepting the body we have, the one that carries us, wakes us up, birthed our kids. Sure, life has altered our bodies in some way. I am here to remind you that that is okay. Love all of you, as cliche as it sounds: the inside and the outside.

Don’t spend your money on programs or pills or upgrade to a premium subscription for any app so you can “unlock its power” — do that inside of you. Turn off the voice that tells you your body is ugly. Reframe the conversation you have with yourself when you look in the mirror. Say “I am beautiful” and “I am enough,” over and over and over again until you believe it deep within your bones.

Each year, the weight loss industry makes over $30 billion dollars on a bet. They are betting that we will feel bad enough about our bodies that we will go and buy the latest weight-loss powder, try some new Spanx, or need an apple cider vinegar pill to clean out all of the toxins (plain ol’ water can do that, by the way). They are counting on us to feel less-than, so we’ll keep buying into the harmful narrative that makes them rich.

It’s such a familiar feeling, when we scroll on Facebook and we see post after post of “Gotta diet, it’s almost summertime,” or “My body is not going to fit into a bikini this summer, gotta start my diet,” or “Anyone want to go and workout before summer comes?” Sure, work out — put on some gym clothes, lace up if it makes you feel good inside. Just don’t do it because someone else tells you that you aren’t good enough if you don’t. Yes, there are obvious health benefits to eating healthy, to exercising, and to managing your feelings — all are important. But they aren’t everything.

My personal preference is to not wear a bikini, and that’s okay! However, I do go to the beach with my kids. I do wear a bathing suit. I do get into the water with them. And after we swim and spend hours at the beach, we go and have ice cream with Oreo crumbles on top — because I LOVE ice cream. I love ice cream so much so that I have my spot. I will drive twenty minutes (on a good day without any traffic) to get the ice cream that makes my tastebuds jump for joy and my soul content. I pack my three kids into our minivan, whining and complaining all the way.

Going to the beach and getting ice cream with my kids is not about my body; it is about them, their memories, and the stories they’ll get to share later with their own kids. I won’t let my body hold me back from showing up in all of the ways my kids need me. I will probably download and delete a few more apps over the summer, but rest assured that my “beach body” will be on my terms.

Yes, fill yourself with the knowledge you need to make informed eating choices. But give yourself the space and the joy to live life not worrying about the belly fat, the thick thighs, the flat butt, whatever it is. I look forward to the day when we pay for an app that reminds us how beautiful we are, not how far we have to go in order to achieve the “perfect” figure.

My hips are wider than my best friend’s hips. My body doesn’t look like my neighbor’s in a bathing suit. And all of that is okay. Please, this summer — love you, like I love me.