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Body Image Summer Survival Guide

by Erika Pranzo, LPC

The author discussing summer body image

Let’s talk about summer body image. Finally, it’s over 70 degrees in Philly. It’s time to open the windows, feel the sun on your skin, wear sundresses, and hate every picture you take. Stop right there- not this year!!

Our mental health often improves as the temperature gets warmer and the days get longer. However, stress surrounding body image can also surface. We naturally wear less clothing in the summer to keep up with higher temperatures. But less clothing means exposing more skin and fewer opportunities to “hide” everything we’ve deemed hateable. At the same time, many of us also attend more social events because people finally want to get out and enjoy the weather! 

With less clothing, more social events, and countless social media platforms to document it all, how can we cope with body image this summer?

Here is my list of tips for you to practice:

Normalize the stress surrounding body image.

Step one is normalizing your stress. You are not alone- unfortunately, many people, especially women, dread shorts season because they struggle with body image. It is essential to acknowledge the stress and send compassion to it. Dr. Kristen Neff has spent her life researching self-compassion, and her research has shown time and time again that when we realize we are not alone in our struggles, we feel better. She recommends reminding yourself, “Most people would feel stressed in this situation, and that’s OK.”

Buy clothes that fit and feel good.

How many times have you said, “Oh, but I’ll lose weight and be able to wear this again.” Body sizes fluctuate, so if something does sometimes fit, OK. But otherwise, I recommend just getting rid of it! It is more likely to make you feel bad about body image and lower your motivation. Go shopping (physically go to the store to try things on)! Find something that fits YOUR body and makes you feel good. You are more likely to be happier, more motivated, and more confident wearing things that fit your body well and comfortably.

Take photos of things and places, not your body.

Of course, we all want photos of ourselves to reflect on, but how many do we need? Try to shift your focus toward taking pictures of the cool places you go, that gorgeous $7 latte, and other things that make you happy this summer. These moments are important. When you do take photos of yourself, practice self-compassion and remind yourself that it is just a photo.

Practice body gratitude.

Acknowledge everything your body does for you! How many steps do your legs allow you to take a day? What words will your mouth and throat enable you to say? Those “not perfect” abs allow you to hold your body up throughout the day. When we take a step back and realize that our bodies are the vehicles that we have and use to engage with the world, sometimes we are able to give them more credit than usual. 

Practice acceptance and body neutrality.

You are so much more than your body. Your body is the physical form of everything within you. You have thoughts, feelings, intelligence & creativity, and a million more exciting traits than your waist size!

Most of us know and understand all of this, but it can be hard to make peace with. Why? Because hating ourselves is profitable…but that’s a topic for another blog post! At the end of the day, your body is a body. You don’t have to love it, and you definitely do not have to hate it. Although everyone’s body image journey and needs are unique, these tips can help pretty much anyone, and I hope they help you!

Try out my free downloadable body gratitude worksheet, here.

Erika Pranzo, LPC is Therapy for Women’s Internship Coordinator and specializes in movement therapy, body image, anxiety, and depression. To learn more about Erika, read her bio here.

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