Bikini body or body issues? Myth of the ‘summer body’ adds anxiety

As the weather gets warmer, students shed their sweatshirts and long pants in order to switch to attire better suited for the hot summer climate. We awaken the tank tops and shorts that have been hibernating in our closets and start to see more of ourselves in the mirror when throwing pieces around to create an outfit. 

For just three months of the year, midwesterners get a glimpse of life on the warmer side. Many just aren’t really used to it; the unfamiliar nature of summer weather sneaks up on everyone. While summer is a cause for celebration for many, wearing more revealing clothing and the pressure to have the perfect “summer body” can cause others to feel insecure and worry about their body image. 

“Summer clothing, especially swimsuits, make me feel anxious. Personally, I’m always super self-conscious when wearing swimsuits, because I feel like everyone is looking,” says senior Winter Dreller. 

Shorter clothing worn over the summer to help fight against the heat can make people worry about unwanted attention, as well as lack confidence about their body and weight. Shorts and tank tops expose more of a person’s body, leading to many people being insecure over areas of their body that are usually covered in the winter. 

“I tend to feel more confident in fall and winter clothing. While I enjoy shorts and tank tops and summer staples, I find myself having a harder time trying to feel cute, comfortably,” senior Kodie Winkler shares.

Social media is also a big contributor to summer body image issues. When scrolling on social media, we begin to see the idea of the “perfect body” being broadcasted and praised heavily, as it is seen as the only way to be confident during these tropical feeling months.

“I see a lot of social media posts that promote diets or exercise plans or whatever to get the ‘ideal summer body’ or ‘bikini body,’ and I feel like that can be really damaging, since it spreads the message that only certain body types are allowed to wear revealing clothing when it really should be that a person wears whatever they’re most comfortable in,” states Winkler. 

Social media often encourages people to diet or exercise in order to attain a “bikini body”—or an unrealistic, conventionally attractive body. This idea makes people think they need to change their body in order to be “summer ready,” which can be detrimental to one’s mental health and body image. This can also promote disordered eating by encouraging diet culture and pushing the idea that a natural body isn’t good enough. Social media can also lead many to compare themselves to edited celebrity photos, which creates unrealistic beauty standards, especially for a young audience. 

Body confidence issues are something that happens to almost everyone. Although this happens year round to many, the summer months highlight it in a different way. 

“I see my friends comparing themselves to edited and filtered pictures of people who are already conventionally attractive,” Dreller adds. 

Over the summer, it’s important to know how to cope with anxieties over body image.

“One way to cope is to realize what you think about other people wearing certain clothing. When I’m at the beach and see someone wearing a bikini, I’m not judging them,” says Dreller. 

It’s important to remember that every body is a beach body. If you are struggling with your body image, you can reach out to the ETHS social workers at W121 or at (847) 424-7230.