Body image is a difficult topic for women, especially in the summer months when the sweaters and jackets are replaced with shorts, T-shirts, and, most uncomfortable for some, the swimsuit. In a 2006 survey, over 30 percent of women polled stated that they feel uncomfortable wearing a swimsuit. While that discomfort is certainly understandable, it is not enjoyable. Wouldn't you rather be spending time playing in the pool with the kids, sliding down slides at the water park, and enjoying the sunshine, than watching from the sidelines in a bulky T-shirt?
If you're like most of us, you're ready to enjoy your summer more and worry about your body less. Here are five tips for making the most of the hot months ahead, without feeling embarrassed about your body.
1. Wear what makes you feel great
While some are being applauded for being "brave" by wearing a string bikini, if you don't feel comfortable in one, you will spend your time in the sun worrying rather than enjoying. You will feel much more comfortable wearing something that feels good to you, so take some time to find a suit that fits well and helps you enjoy yourself, rather than something that leaves you feeling over-exposed and uncomfortable. There are all different kinds of suits to fit different body types flatteringly.
2. Practice thinking kind thoughts
It's easy to stand in front of a mirror and pick apart the things you wish you could change about yourself. But the more time we spend focusing on our flaws, the more of a habit it becomes to feel bad about those areas of our bodies. Instead, practice thinking about what you love and appreciate about your body every day, so that the positive thoughts come to you automatically.
If there's one thing that is going to make you feel more insecure about your body, it's hearing other women pick apart their own bodies, or criticize other women behind their backs. Spend time with people who choose to see the good in themselves and in others, rather than those who cruelly judge others. You will feel more comfortable in your own skin; plus you will develop habits of positive self-talk.
4. Recognize the truth about bodies
It seems like daily we are bombarded with the media's idea of what a "good" body looks like. It's the cover of a magazine, the picture on social media, or the actress on the runway. Because we see this so much, we assume that all women are supposed to look like this. Let's be honest -- the girl in the magazine doesn't even look like that in real life; that actress starved herself for a week to prepare for the occasion; that Instagram photo was one out of 20 that happened to hit the light just right. Our society's beauty standards are flawed and unrealistic. All bodies are good bodies, and there's no reason to compare ourselves to the ridiculous standard set by popular culture.
5. Focus on having more fun
Summer is only a few short months. Before you know it, the kids will be back in school and the leaves will be falling. The next time you have a chance to spend the day in the sunshine with your children, they will be a year older; so get in there and play with them. The more you play, the less you will worry about how you look while playing.
Years from now, our fondest memories will be of the fun we had and the people we shared it with; and chances are we won't even remember which swimsuit we wore that year.