How to be body positive this summer after living through quarantine

Group of people celebrating body positivity during the summer,
Katrina Romulo /File

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With summer around the corner, talks of a “summer body” are starting up again. The summer body ideal usually means being super fit, tan and virtually blemishless, but the reality is that we don’t always look or feel that way come summer. While summer can provide a great incentive to get outside and become healthier, it also idealizes a really specific body type. As everyone’s lifestyle and routines have changed due to the pandemic, it’s time to move on from the summer body ideal and instead start accepting the realistic shapes and textures of our “quarantine body.”

Lifestyle changes

While I used to get insufficient daily steps with work and activities outside my house, I now spend most of my time sitting at my table and typing away at my laptop for hours. This lifestyle has been mentally exhausting, and by the time I’m finished with Zoom meetings and online assignments, the last thing I want to do is physically work out. The COVID-19 pandemic made it hard to go outside and get active, and it also took a toll on many people’s mental health and body image. Instead of coming into summer idolizing a body type that hasn’t been a reality given the stress of the past year, we should be loving and honoring our bodies in every form they come in. Acknowledging and accepting that this year has taken a toll in a lot of ways is a great step to coming into summer confidence. Though I want to take a greater effort in maintaining my health this summer, I want that to stem from positivity rather than from anxiety about changing myself.

Quarantine body

Because many of us have gone months without a professional haircut and have been slowly increasing the times between shaves and other body and hygiene maintenance, we should not go into summer expecting an immediate change in how we feel about our bodies. Accepting that a tan, spotless and fit summer body doesn’t necessarily represent the reality of our bodies is vital to feeling confident in our own skin this summer. Our bodies naturally have pouches of fat, hairs, stretch marks, wrinkles, pimples and uneven pigmentation. These are natural and normal parts of the human body throughout the whole year, even if they feel a little more on display during summer.

Moving forward

As summer comes closer, you might feel a little stressed about the pressure of the ideal summer body. It’s totally OK if you don’t feel comfortable in your body for a while or if you want to change how you feel about your body. If you feel inspired to work out more and that feels productive and healthy for you, go for it! But at the same time, if working out or wearing a swimsuit feels really scary, that is OK too. Remember to treat yourself and your body with care as we move into summer and swimsuit season. Acknowledge that summer might bring expectations about your body but that your worth is not defined by how you look. 

We should not idealize a specific body type for one particular season. Instead, we must remember and recognize that body diversity and positivity are year-round attitudes. That “perfect” summer body is only one of many healthy, happy and appreciated body shapes. Instead of focusing on an idealized body type, be gentle with your current one.

Contact Emily Lui at [email protected].