Summer body mentality prevents healthy relationships with weight

Implying a mindset in which bodies must look a certain way to be able to enjoy the summer, the term “summer body” promotes a mentality that poisons students’ self-esteem. 

Typing the words ‘summer bodies’ into an internet search engine pulls up seemingly endless images of bodies perceived as perfect: tiny waists, thigh gaps and impossibly flat stomachs, shredded abs with large and freakishly muscular arms. Carefree and relaxing summer days come to an abrupt end as diet and wellness culture causes neglect of healthy habits; however, the supposed summer body is considered necessary to enjoy summer.

As the summer months begin, shorts and tank tops become vital to stay cool. Unlike the winter months where it was possible to wear thick and baggy clothing, the heat prevents many from hiding their bodies resulting in body image issues coming out from the shadows. 

“Summer body culture emphasizes having to be skinny to wear bikinis rather than how every size is beautiful in swimwear,” junior Anika Yadav said.  

According to UC San Diego, diet culture in social media promotes the summer body mentality and the accompanying negative consequences. Some examples include eating disorders, which lower self esteem and boost the idea that being skinny is the only way to genuinely enjoy the summer months. Eating disorders can also cause drastic weight loss or gain, and grave health concerns such as infertility, low or high blood pressure and permanent damage to vital organs.

“Being body positive means loving your body, especially in summer [as] every body is a summer body.”

— Anika Yadav

Countless articles discuss the most effective ways to lose weight fast, mostly in unhealthy and restrictive ways. For example, the Gretchy blog draws in readers by asking them if they want to get a bikini body overnight, a question few wouldn’t answer yes to. They cite cutting salt, carbs and eating meals the size of a person’s fist as the most efficient and quick way to lose fat. According to the Mayo Clinic, weight loss works by inducing a caloric deficit: consuming less calories than you burn daily. So by extension the Gretchy blog isn’t lying exactly, yet they are promoting an unhealthy caloric deficit, as the Mayo Clinic states that a safe deficit is about 500 calories less than your body burns per day. 

Maintaining a healthy relationship with weight loss can be uprooted by this type of media encouraging unsafe methods of weight loss, leaving desperate people willing to try anything in an effort to attain that prized summer body. 

Instead, consuming media stemming from the body positivity movement can help alleviate erred perspectives. A study by Bradley University showed that women felt more confident in their bodies after seeing a body positive campaign ad by Aerie than other companies which were not body positive. 

“We should hype up every body type, regardless of what they look like because every body is beautiful,” Yadav said. “Being body positive means loving your body, especially in summer [as] every body is a summer body.”