Today’s Solutions: June 14, 2024

As summertime approaches, so does the widespread pressure to get the elusive “summer body.” For many, this is a season of intense scrutiny as diet culture intensifies its messaging, pushing people to be in shape and lose weight in order to enjoy poolside relaxation and beach days. A quieter story of self-acceptance, resiliency, and joy exists among the din of body standards and weight-loss goals. 

Renowned eating disorder specialist Dr. Alexis Conason provides tips for gracefully and confidently negotiating the perilous seas of summer body pressure. Dr. Conason offers practical tips for taking back control of one’s body and appreciating it for all of its beauty and individuality, from identifying the root of societal pressures to creating a good social media environment and practicing body appreciation. Let’s set out on a path of self-discovery and empowerment as the sun-kissed days of summer approach.

Recognizing the pressure source

Eating disorder specialist and author of The Diet Free Revolution Dr. Alexis Conason discusses the ubiquitous impact of the multimillion-dollar weight-loss business. We naturally feel pressure to achieve an idealized ‘bikini body’ when spring approaches, she says. From fitness supplements to gym challenges, the subtleties of diet culture marketing can readily penetrate our psyches. Dr. Conason counsels disputing these ideas by looking at where they came from and urges us to “keep the blame where it belongs—on diet culture—not on our bodies.”

People feel inadequate if they don’t fit in with society’s standards because of the unrelenting marketing of thinness as the ideal of beauty. Social media’s ascent has also increased these demands because well-chosen feeds present unreachable body standards. Many people consequently find themselves aiming for an unattainable body, often at the price of their mental and physical health.

Curating a positive social media environment

Dr. Conason is an advocate for establishing a social media feed that encourages diversity and body acceptance in reaction to the negative impacts of mainstream media. “Fill your feed with individuals of all shapes and sizes who live free from diet talk and body hatred,” she suggests. Frequent encounters with people of many body types living happy lives can help to reverse negative social signals and promote self-acceptance.

Dr. Conason also stresses the need to realize how social media influencers help to maintain unattainable beauty standards. Through unfollowing accounts that support the poisonous diet culture and surrounding oneself with positive material, people can create a digital environment that values self-love and honesty.

Practicing body gratitude

It can feel radical to be grateful for our bodies in a culture that emphasizes self-improvement. By recognizing the things in our bodies we like, Dr. Conason promotes adopting a kinder viewpoint. “Research suggests that fostering gratitude for our bodies by spending time focusing on the things we appreciate about them can help improve body image,” she notes. Write for five minutes about three physical features—whether they be functional or cosmetic—that you find admirable. This exercise strengthens one’s own ability to withstand social demands and validates oneself.

In addition, Dr. Conason emphasizes the need to appreciate the intrinsic worth of the body that goes beyond its outward look. Our bodies need respect and gratitude for everything from their capacity for happiness and pleasure to their tenacity in the face of adversity. People can develop better relationships with their bodies and give holistic well-being a top priority by refocusing from outside validation to internal satisfaction.

Recognizing the sneaky ways diet culture operates, building a supportive online network, and developing an appreciation for our bodies can help us regain our confidence and live authentically and joyfully during the summer. Though thoughts about our bodies may still surface, these techniques enable us to deal with them with fortitude and compassion for ourselves.

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