Phoebe Hughes-Broughton investigates Instagram's effects on our mental health and happinessWritten by Phoebe Hughes-Broughton on 23rd November 2017
Why You Should Ignore the ‘Beach Body’ Expectations
Life&Style writer Miriam Nixon discusses why the worry of not having a 'beach body' should not put you off enjoying the sun
Exams are finally over, spring is drawing to a close, and summer is fast approaching. Although most of us are counting down the days till we can enjoy barbecues outside, tan in the sunshine and drink as many cocktails as possible, the looming expectation of being ‘beach ready’ is an intimidating thought. After being swamped in layers of jumpers and blankets throughout the year, the idea of removing your cocoon of comfort clothing that shelters you from the judgement of society makes you want to crawl back into bed and hibernate till winter.
“There’s a lot of unspoken pressure on both men and women to be toned, tanned and trendy in summer
There’s a lot of unspoken pressure on both men and women to be toned, tanned and trendy in summer, to don our bikinis and trunks with pride and strut down the beach, flashing abs and smiles and taking selfies the whole way. But, realistically, that isn’t how the majority of us will be.
Let me take you back a few years. Summer, 2013. I was 16 – prime age for self-consciousness (cheers puberty). Slightly boy-obsessed at the time. There I am, on the beach, in a bikini, ice creams in hand, when I turn and bump into three – what can only be described as ‘god-like’ – older boys, teeth gleaming, abs rippling, halos shining (perhaps I was hallucinating from the heat at this point). When I finally pick my jaw off the floor, it dawns on me that I have ice cream dripping down my hand, my bikini is slightly too small for me (one too many ice creams) and the acne on my chin is glowing as bright as their beautifully tanned skin. In horror, I run back to my family, dropping ice cream on the way as I hear their laughter growing fainter in the distance. And I promptly spend the rest of the day wrapped in a towel with cheeks still burning from embarrassment.
Over the last four years, I’ve come to realise that my memory of this moment is quite distorted. The boys probably weren’t laughing at me – they probably didn’t even notice my existence. And they probably weren’t as god-like as I remember – I just overlooked their imperfections as I gazed at them in awe. I blew it out of proportion in my head and ruined a perfectly good day at the beach (missing out on a killer tan opportunity). Because the truth is, no one notices your flaws as much as you do.
And if you embrace them and wear them with confidence, they won’t notice them at all.
“There isn’t a ‘perfect beach body’; everyone has flaws and imperfections that they’re self-conscious about
The media constantly feeds us images of models and celebrities, photo-shopped and polished to perfection, and pressurises both men and women to try and match up to this ‘body ideal’, making us fear that if we don’t look the same, we’ll be shunned to the shadows in shame. But remember; the Instagram pictures are edited and the Snapchats have filters on. There isn’t a ‘perfect beach body’; everyone has flaws and imperfections that they’re self-conscious about.
If, like me, the sunshine makes you ridiculously happy, then don’t let the pressure of society stop you from enjoying every second of it. Don’t let your beer belly stop you from stripping off your top and catching some rays. Don’t let your stretch marks stop you from wearing that swimsuit with pride. Don’t let the pressure of society stop you from enjoying that ice cream.
Life is too short to hide away from the sunshine. So this summer, embrace your body and live in it with confidence.
(And remember to wear sun cream!)