Swimwear/ Image: Minh Pam/ Unsplash
Image: Minh Pam/ Unsplash

Beach body ready

Sun’s out, holidays are booked, and the barbecue is back in use. There is so much to love about summer. But the season comes with its own set of challenges. Summer creates pressure to perfect our bodies. But where does this come from, and how can it affect people?

Something often forgotten about social media is that a lot of the content is fake

Social media plays a huge role in fostering these pressures. It’s not uncommon to open TikTok and scroll through countless videos of people trying to get their summer bodies, what I eat in a day videos, and gym progress body checks. This content can be inspiring for people wanting to become fitter but can also be so damaging. We get lost mindlessly scrolling through these apps and a constant message is reinforced that we’re doing something wrong if our bodies don’t look like the ones we see online. Social media is a constant game of comparison, and so if the summer dieting culture is the content we are consuming, then sooner or later it will have an impact on us.

Something often forgotten about social media is that a lot of the content is fake. It’s easy to pose your body in a certain way to make you look slimmer. It has also become nearly impossible to tell whether pictures are edited. Influencers tend to post the highlights and leave out the less flattering parts. It can be so difficult to know what is real and what is filtered. We are constantly losing ourselves to summer body content that is only actually half of the story. Social media can provide a great sense of community and has other advantages, but it’s so important to remember that the content we view is what people choose to put out there.

When people are scrolling through social media, seeing the narrative of a perfect summer body, it can create issues with body image. We may feel like our bodies aren’t quite right, and that we need to change them to fully enjoy our summer. This can very quickly cause issues with disordered eating and take a great toll on our mental health. Often, we don’t notice this until it’s too late. Cathryne Keller writes: “Back when I was deep in diet culture hell, late spring was the time I started counting down the days until summer officially began, trying to calculate how much smaller I could realistically get by that self-imposed deadline”.  This constant pressure can make it so difficult to maintain a positive sense of self-image.

The phrase ‘summer body’ definitely needs to go

Whilst the way we live, eat and exercise does have an impact, it has been shown that much of our weight and body shape is determined by our DNA. People may in fact be breaking themselves down to try and change the shape of their body when their ideal body just isn’t genetically natural for them. Pushing ourselves harder and harder to try and reach the ideals that we see all over social media and never seeing exactly the results we desire can take a huge mental toll.

One quick Google search brings up hundreds of fitness articles with advice on how to get your ‘summer body’. There are many why this advice can be damaging, however, it is often presented as advice to build a healthy lifestyle and feel good in your body. Tom Ward writes in GQ: “The ideal summer body should be subjective.”

So, the phrase ‘summer body’ definitely needs to go. After all, body types have no different worth just because the season changes. But maybe the overall idea is useful to begin a conversation on living the healthy lifestyle that suits you.


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