Summertime is a vibrant, joyous and exhilarating time for people of all ages. This season brings with it a break from school, family vacations, warm weather and countless fun outdoor activities.
For some people, though, with summer also comes a sinking feeling in their stomach with the realization that with hotter weather, often comes more skin-revealing clothing. If you aren’t confident in your own skin, it’s going to be difficult to dress appropriately for the hot weather, even without showing an excessive amount of skin.
If you find yourself dreading the pool, lake or beach days because you’re embarrassed or ashamed of your body, you might be struggling with a negative body image.
In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at how you can combat negative body image thoughts and feelings during the summer months.
What is body image?
Body image refers to the thoughts, feelings and overall perception a person has about their body. It encompasses how they view their weight, shape, unique physical traits and level of believed attractiveness and can have a significant impact on a person’s mental well-being.
Having a positive body image is generally characterized by a compassionate acceptance and appreciation of one’s body as it is, regardless of what society or others think. It’s recognizing the inherent worth, beauty and purpose of your body, and treating it with the kindness it deserves.
Having a negative body image typically includes feelings of self-consciousness, loathing or having a distorted perception of one’s own body. It often involves a hyper-fixation of one’s weight or perceived flaws, and if left unaddressed, can lead to disordered eating or exercise behaviors.
What influences body language?
Understanding what elements in your past and present are actively influencing your body image is key to helping you develop your healthiest body image and best overall well-being.
There is no one source of body image issues, and it’s important to understand that the contributing factors can vary widely among people.
Some of the key factors that can impact body image include:
Societal, cultural or religious norms, ideals and expectations surrounding appearance
Familial and peer influences (including comments, teasing and bullying)
Personal factors like temperament, mental health and self-esteem
Gender- or age-specific expectations or vulnerabilities
Extended exposure to extreme or unrealistic fitness and diet culture
Trauma and distressing past experiences surrounding one’s body or body image
Living with a disability or chronic illness
There are so many different biological, psychological and sociocultural influences that play a role in forming someone’s body image, it’s important to assess the factors in your own life.
Once you have a better idea of what’s contributing to your body image, positively and negatively, you can begin taking the appropriate steps to improve your body image.
How to improve body image
The good news is, there is no one way to begin improving your body image. The below tips, strategies and practices are tried-and-true methods, but keep an open mind throughout the journey. Learn what genuinely helps your mental and physical well-being, and what doesn’t.
Here are a few ways to get started:
Body image issues often begin or are exacerbated by negative self-talk and cruel treatment towards oneself or the body. Instead of allowing your thoughts and words to tear you down, stop them at the moment and reframe them into positive and compassionate statements.
Focus on health over beauty standards
We often hold ourselves to the standards of celebrities, models and other socially influential people, but who said these people were the representation of optimal health? They might be beautiful on the outside (an appearance often attained through surgery, editing, or extreme dieting) but that isn’t the same thing as being healthy. Focus on your health and well-being, and the glow will come.
Surround yourself with supportive people
A little teasing between friends and family members is fairly common and normal. Being the constant brunt of someone’s jokes because of your skin, weight or overall appearance though, is different. Surround yourself with people who value, respect and love you, beyond your appearance; you deserve a community that uplifts you, not tears you down.
Additional ways to promote positive body image include:
Practicing gratitude for all the ways your body supports you every day
Engage in mindfulness and body positivity activities
Ditch negative self- or body-talk
Prioritize a nutrient-rich diet that will make you physically feel better
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with where to begin, send us a message today and we’ll help you get started.
Begin healing your body image today
Tapestry is a premier program specializing in behavioral health treatment that helps adolescents and adults nurture intrinsic change and meaningful action in their life.
Whether you’re struggling with an eating disorder, mental health disorder, substance use disorder or co-occurring disorders, we’re here to help. Our compassionate treatment team will support you every step of the recovery journey.