The “summer body” stigma: Our health’s worst enemy

Some warm days have passed, the wave of Earth Day beach pictures have made their way to social media and the “summer body” stigma is officially back. 

The concept has no real definition, building off its power to bring out insecure thoughts we have been holding in all winter. The thing that haunts everyone as the bathing suits begin to fill the shelves in our local clothing stores. The thing that gives “perfection” a falsely stable meaning. 

It’s almost ironic that my final scroll on Instagram before coming to write this article was one about a summer body. I say almost because, let’s be honest, nearly every scroll on any social media platform during the months of March to June are all about this infamous glorification of perfection.

The idealization of a particular body type is toxic. 

There is really no other way to put it. It casts aside other body types as wrong, bad and unattractive – repellent even. The term summer body makes people think that if they don’t have it, they don’t have the right to be on the beach, by the pool or even in shorts during the hottest months of the year. 

The saddest part is that when the term summer body comes back around, we can all say “Hello” as if we are friends with it. It places us at the victim of its falsehood while we suffer from the inside out. Our most feared enemy becomes ourselves, our own bodies. 

Pictures of women in bikinis and men with cut abs begin circulating on our feeds soon after the first warm day of the year. With this, for me at least, comes the instant inability to look at myself in the mirror. I become hyper-aware of what I am putting in my body, shaming myself for what I may have already eaten that day. It makes me never want to touch summer clothes again, nevermind a bathing suit. 

Instagram has only furthered the idea that our bodies have to look a particular way in order to be “summer ready.” With hashtags like #SummerBodyInProgress and #SummerBodyLoading👙, there is a constant undertone of guilt left at the tips of our fingers. It is so unhealthy and most of us know it, but it’s nearly impossible to break the rooted perfection in societal expectations. 

The idealization of a particular body type is toxic. ”

— Sydney Denham

With this stigma comes fatphobic marketing, eating disorders and other body image issues. Weight loss becomes the forefront of nearly every fitness and nutrition company. “Before and after” pictures become the only proof of body confidence. Self-love is lost at all costs during the times we should be loving ourselves the most. 

If you are a fitness and/or nutrition company advertising a “summer body,” you are marketing off of other people’s insecurities. If you are doing this and using mere toxicity to promote your classes, products, apparel or anything – I have to be brutally honest – you probably shouldn’t be running it. As either company owners or influencers, you have a job to establish a safe place for those who are looking up to you. You have a platform to be better than the toxicity.  

We have to be better than the stigma that floods our minds when warm weather comes around. Summer bodies are not real. Perfection is not real. In other words, take a look at this attempted definition, and I think you’ll get the point.

Our bodies aren’t subject to seasonal trends. They are not “in” like the new fashion trend. Our bodies are more than that – they are our sanctuaries, our safe places. Therefore, we should be treating them fairly and building healthy relationships with food, our clothes and our bathing suits. Our bodies are ours to embrace all of the time whether it be summer, winter, fall or spring. 

It’s time to say bye to that old friend of ours. It’s time to be who we are for ourselves and our confidence, not for society’s expectations. It’s time to completely dismantle the summer body.