Every body is a swimsuit body – reflections on body positivity and cultivating self-love

Swimsuit season is upon us. And it has a tendency to bring up a whole heck of a lot of self-criticism and body shaming! Which is the topic I want to tackle today.

The inspiration for this post and the title came from the movie Dumplin’.

If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a great family-friendly, heartwarming story with a definite body-positive message (and a must-watch with young girls if you have ’em).

In one of the final scenes, two of the characters appear onstage in the “swimwear” portion of a beauty pageant sporting matching suits (albeit on very different body types) with the message “every body is a swimsuit body” printed on them.

I love this message. And here’s why.

The body image paradox

When it comes to discussions around body image these days, a weird dichotomy exists.

One growing message is that we should accept and love ourselves and our bodies, no matter the size or shape. So you’re 50 pounds overweight? So what? Own it!

The other message is of course that we need to constantly strive to be thinner, healthier, in better shape. This is the “get up at 5 am and eat only vegan protein shakes because looking good takes sacrifice” community! I’m being hyperbolic, but you know what I mean.

It’s implied that you can’t do both. That you can’t have a sense of self-love and acceptance of your current body, while still working towards a healthier lifestyle every day.

But I, for one, don’t feel these concepts need to be mutually exclusive.

How self-love and self-improvement can jive

I believe the key to reconciling these two seemingly opposing camps of thinking is learning to detach our own self-worth from the number on the scale.

You have value for so much more than your physical appearance. Remember that the most important people in your life typically love you for your personality, your skills and talents, and every other endearing quality or quirk that makes you YOU.

If we keep this at the forefront of our minds, it’s easier to cultivate some self-love.

And in fact, if we truly are able to love ourselves then it only makes sense to ALSO strive to be healthier. To give our bodies good fuel and good exercise and good rest. To treat ourselves better every day.

So why is it so hard? Let’s break it down …

The impact of social media

Once upon a time, our circle of comparison for what a woman’s body was “supposed” to look like was limited to the actual people in our life. Then television and magazines became mainstream. Then social media.

To the point that we’re now inundated, literally hundreds of times a day, with images of the “perfect body”, living the “perfect life”. And it’s all filters and Photoshop.

We’re so used to this barrage that you may not even consciously notice the impact it’s having on you.

To minimize the comparison game, try curating your social media feeds by unfollowing anyone and anything that doesn’t make you feel good about yourself at the end of the day.

Focus on what you DO love

If you’re not a fan of your tush or (lack of) abs, chances are you have at least one feature that you do like. So try replacing that negative self-talk of “I hate my legs” with “I love my eyes”.

Another way to shift to a more positive body focus is to cultivate gratitude for what your body is capable of.

The thighs you don’t like allow to walk thousands of steps every day. The belly you’re conscious of might have helped you deliver two precious babes.

How disrespectful of us to hate on them so much!

Repeat, repeat, repeat

Bottom line, it takes practice to accept the things we don’t like about ourselves. Even when you think you’re doing pretty well, one shopping trip or off-hand comment can cause the negativity to start creeping back in.

The sooner we can learn to recognize our thoughts drifting in that direction, the sooner we can choose a more positive thought to replace it. And in time, slowly but surely, those thoughts might just become your new default.

Finally, while you’re at it, why not tell another woman in your life something you love about her, body or otherwise.

Let’s raise each other up!



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