The Myth of the ‘Summer Body’

Summer Hoagland-Abernathy, IV Leader Editor

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The ground is thawing, the birds are singing and the sun is coming out from behind the clouds, which can only mean one thing—sky’s out: thighs out.

With swimsuit season right around the corner and with each sales rack making way for tight shorts and
crop tops, one topic on the minds of many is the “summer body.”

The “summer body” is everything that society wants in a model: trim, lean, tight, curvy but not too curvy, muscular but not veiny, skinny but not bony and devoid of any marks.

But we must ask ourselves why this body matters so much to us.

I am a fulltime college student, running a newspaper, working a part- time job, partaking in extra-curricular activities to keep my scholarships—I do not have time to create this body.

I am sure that the stay-at-home mom or dad, with two kids and a meal plan to keep up with every week and a house to clean, does not have time to create this body.

I am sure that the retiring grand-parent, cleaning up odds and ends in their last few weeks of their career, does not have time to create this body.

But this “summer body” creation is expected.

If stretch marks peek out behind a bikini, someone says, “Some people just should not wear certain clothes.” If a rib cage pokes out underneath a crop top, another person says, “Eat a hamburger already.”

The “summer body” is unattainable because societal expectations for beauty are unattainable. But magazines and diet programs will still try to gather clicks by playing on the inse- curities of those who have the cravingto ful ll that societal expectation.

Shape Magazine’s online article “30 Day Countdown to Your Best Summer Body” may actually give some great health advice like drinking more water, exercising with friends and packing a lunch at home, but they also use buzz-phrases like“flat-belly foods” and “belly-ballooning carbonated drinks” to remind the reader that they are not taking these steps for health but aesthetics.

Thankfully, though, people areghting back against this stigma of dieting for beauty and not health.

Famed actor, journalist and feminist Jameela Jamil constantly fires against magazine and celebrity diets on her social media platforms.

In one tweet on March 21, Jamil proclaimed: “I will continue to embarrass you all until you all discontinue your promotion of dud ‘diet/detox’ products, that aren’t FDA approved, and you don’t even put the fucking side effects on the damn post. There are very young people you are hurting here, and I’m doing this for them.”

Promotions of dietary products and the “summer body” as healthy have a history of leading to destructive behaviors in people such as eating disorders and self-depreciation, and this is exactly the reason that destroying the stigma of the “summer body” is so important.

So this swimsuit season, call your body the “summer body.” Call your sister’s body the “summer body.” Call your dad’s body the “summer body.”

Destroy the stigma of the supposedly perfect shape, and wear your skin like you wear your favorite shirt.

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