This is Do You Mind?, a series where I ponder and reflect over many mindfulness practices, what they mean and how to apply them. As the self-care and self-love revolution is on the rise, I hope to make you wonder, do you mind?
By: Sierra Aceto
How familiar do these article titles sound at this time of year: “7 Quick Ways to Lose Weight Before Summer,” “30-Day Countdown to Your Best Summer Body,” “25 Ways to Get a Ripped Summer Body” and “5 Tips to Get a Bikini Body for Summer”?
Typically, these articles only incite negative emotions — guilt, dread, anger, frustration, desperation, etc. Rarely do we feel joy when marketing companies promote drastic changes to our eating habits and exercise regimes.
Articles like these hope to scare us into altering our lifestyle for several weeks — or even months — in order to achieve a certain look or size for the summer months.
And for what? To further promote that we aren’t worthy of posting that Instagram photo unless we resemble the most recent trend in body shape, whether it be Kim Kardashian or Gigi Hadid?
Not only do these articles support harmful eating disorders, but what we often forget is that companies are creating this content for one reason: to make money. By buying companies’ waist trainers, fat-burning pills, powders and aggressive workout plans, we are paying them to continue this toxic behavior. And all it does is hurt us more.
Interested in the truth? Everybody is different. We can’t or, at least, we shouldn’t feel pressured to change the structure of our rib cage, restrict how much or what we can eat or force ourselves into workouts or any other habits that don’t bring us peace and joy.
Instead of guilting and restricting this spring, try accepting, loving and caring. After all, your body is your home. It breathes for you, pumps blood through your veins, lets you know when something is wrong, works overtime when you’re sick and builds the muscle and mind that make up the strong, intelligent human being you are.
Feel proud of all the effort your body puts in to keep you alive. Show that body off. The body that prefers to work out once a week — or once a month. The body that genuinely enjoys eating a whole pint of Ben & Jerry’s no matter how good or bad the day was. The body that relishes days in with reading or video games over days of sweating.
This is the same body that belly-laughs her way through a night out with friends. The body that unconditionally cares for his pets, siblings and parents. The body that is so much more than weight or size or cellulite or scars. The body that actually lives your life like no one else can.
Show that beautiful shit off at the beach. It is your most authentic, your most you. It is the body that never wanted to be tweaked or airbrushed or slimmed down. It is the body that feels the word “healthy” in so many more ways than one.
Ultimately, your confidence and self-love defines your beach body more than anything else, and you get to choose who else, if anyone, gets to influence that. You are beautiful and worthy because you are unique, and you are so much more than how marketing agencies try to make you feel.
There are other companies out there challenging how we market to people of all sizes, genders, ethnicities and identifications. If you’d like to take a step away from toxic advertisements, check out a couple suggestions here and here. Oh, and here’s one or two lists just about body inclusive bathing suits!
Here’s to a body-loving, norm-defying and beach-partying summer — because the ultimate protest is showing off that you never needed changing in the first place.
Behavioral Medicine at BU Student Health Services offers confidential counseling for mental health and is available 24/7 for emergencies. You are not alone. Behavioral Medicine is there for you. Call 617-353-3569 to make an appointment.