Body Love

Reminder: The Only ‘Summer Body’ You Need Is The Body You Have

I’m hereby banishing that toxic phrase for the sake of my daughters.

Written by Natasha McKee
Originally Published: 
Sergey Novikov / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images

Slowly but surely, the seasons are changing, finally leaving the dismal dreariness of winter behind. Inching towards summer should be joyful! I’m ready to soak up all the vitamin D and absolutely thrilled about the possibility of throwing the kids outside for some fun in the sun. But the bane of my existence that also comes with this time of year? The idea of the “summer body” I’m supposed to get ready.

I am a body acceptance advocate; body love is the hill I live and die on. And yet, the algorithm still finds a way to sneak outrageous detoxes and diet adverts into my feeds. The most recent ad on YouTube informed me I wasn’t losing weight because… well, let’s just say it had to do with digestion.

Years ago, these ads would have spiked my anxiety and sent me spiraling down the Internet research hole so I could figure out how to lose weight fast. What exercises would make my legs jiggle less and make my stomach socially acceptable enough to wear a bathing suit in public? But now it just makes me sad — and then hella mad. Because I’m finally at a place where I can accept my body the majority of the time, but I spent decades covering up, sweating in long sleeves, and never enjoying myself. And I know I’m not the only one. I’ve watched my mother do it, I’ve watched friends do it. And I’m telling you, it’s time for this to end.

This year, I'm ditching everything I've ever been told about getting my body ready for summer. This is your reminder that all you have to do to get a summer body is to live your best life in summer... in your body.

And yet, when I've floated the idea by people in my life in the past, they've had some pretty wild reactions. Some called that mentality lazy, and others have warned me against “ignoring my health” to prove a point by not actively trying to lose weight. But the fact of the matter is that I am the healthiest I have been in years, and I’m talking holistically healthy. I’m treating my mental health, reveling in inner peace, and accepting and loving my body regardless of what it looks like. Tell me, what about that isn’t healthy?

What Does Getting a ‘Summer Body' Even Mean?

The only weight I plan on losing is the burden of carrying other people's opinions about my body. The only thing I am going to change about my summer body this year will be dressing for my comfort instead of dressing my body in a way that makes other people comfortable.

I'm fat. I'm midsize. I'm the cuddly, curvy girl that would be “the full package” if I just got a bit more in shape. Yes, people have actually said that to me. And yes, it used to hurt like hell. I didn’t take it with a grain of salt, I took it to heart. And the result? A decades-long struggle with an eating disorder.

This summer, this first normal-ish summer in over two years, a lot of people will realize their bodies have changed. Have many of us gained weight during the pandemic? A lot of people have, and dammit, there is nothing wrong with that. We're still trying to navigate this weird limbo we've been hanging out in for the past two years. And yet, nailing that summer body is our first priority? I don’t think so.

I don't just take this stance for myself. I preach on this body-acceptance soapbox day in and day because I have kids, and I hope and pray they never have the tumultuous and negative relationship with their bodies that I did. I don't want my daughters to see me working out to get a summer body instead of exercising to honor my body. Because sending that message is far more problematic than my “quarantine 15.” I want my girls to pick out a swimsuit because they love the design and because it's comfortable. It would be irresponsible to teach them anything else. In all honesty, kids don't need any help learning to hate their bodies. Trust me, they’re seeing it every time they open their phones or hop online.

According to a report on Healthline, our tweens and teens have been contacting the National Eating Disorders Association 58% more since March of 2020. Tween, preteen-dom, and the teenage years are already hard to navigate because our kid's bodies are constantly changing. Throw that on top of an (ongoing) pandemic and an unrealistic societal expectation to look a certain way, well, that's not going to make things easier.

It's Time to Accept Our Bodies in Every Season

I am so tired of hearing we aren't enough as we are.

If you're fat, you should be smaller. If you're thin, you should be curvier. If you're curvy, it's just too bad that those curves aren't in the right places. But all those perfect beach bodies that are splashed all over the front page and on social media... are bodies that have been edited, filtered, and photoshopped. Those are bodies that have had surgery and fillers. And yes, some will swear up and down that they've put in the work to look the way they do. I'm not saying they're lying, but you should also remember that they have many other privileges that most women don't. They don't shout from the rooftops about the nannies, the person chefs, the trainers, and everyone else in their day-to-day who helps them out.

At the end of the day, all you have to do to get ready for summer is wear clothes that are comfortable and love your body in all its glory. This isn't about trashing any one type of body. It also isn't saying that someone is better or not because they work out. This is simply about accepting every body regardless of shape or size.

So this year, join me in throwing the concept of getting a “summer body” to the wind. Last year was my first year in a two-piece bathing suit in 31 years. It was enjoyable, it was freeing, and it won't be my last. I’m as ready for summer as I need to be.

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