The End of the Bikini Body

What do fad diets, destructive thoughts, and obsessive thoughts all have in common?

They all can come together to take over our lives in this pre-summer season.

Because now is the time of year that we’re starting to think about the summer. The backyard parties, barbeques, days at the beach, and (safety permitting) the family and friend get togethers that we missed out on in 2020.

This can lead to a desire to change our body, lose weight, get that “bikini body” for the summer. Without fail, there will be companies and individuals marketing to you in this exact situation. Because that is what companies do – market to sell their products. It’s not a bad thing. But it is a thing that exists.

The tough part is that, like I’ve talked about in a previous episode, these companies are good. This know what to say and how to say it to hit your emotions and insecurities.

The female body through the years.

During this pre-summertime of year, this is often around our bodies and fitting into those summer clothes. Of course, I used bikini in the title – I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. So, it might’ve been a little clickbait…but I think you know what I mean. It’s the idea that as women we should live up to a certain image.

Women have gone through many phases. Just take a minute to watch the GIF at the right or click on it to check out the full images for each year.

Throughout history, the image of “the ideal woman” has taken numerous shapes. From stick thin to curvier bodies, there really has been a time for everyone. But that time isn’t all here at the same time and also is not the present time.

This causes a disconnect. In the media, news, social media, and other sources we, as women, are told that we should (and almost that we must) live up to this idea of the “ideal woman”.

In today’s day and age, this is further complicated.

Perhaps you’ve heard the quote: “The woman in the picture doesn’t even look like the woman in the picture.”

…Thank you, technology?

Don’t get me wrong, technology is great. But this feminine ideal, compared with the photoshop capabilities to make it happen with a few clicks of a mouse or a drag across a smartphone screen, truly is a recipe for disaster.

In a study done in the UK with 11-16 year old kids, over 40% said that they’ve experienced worry about how they look due to images on social media. Another review found dissatisfaction in their body in kids under the age of six. (This study varied wildly, but there have been many that have found similar results in young children when asked about their body image.)

This is FREAKING INSANE. I cannot even believe how crazy this is.

Now, chances are none of you listening to this podcast fit these demographics, but you may have kids, grandkids, friend’s kids, or other young people in your life that may fit these age demographics. If not, hey, you were a kid once too, right?

Because this doesn’t just stop in childhood.

These beliefs, and others that we have during our formative years shape many of the thoughts, behaviors, habits, and other actions we take in our lives as adults.

On top of that we become aware of the industry, and world for that matter, who wants to convince you that you are not enough. That you are not capable. That you should eat less, be less, consume less, take up less space.

This is bullshit.

There is no other word for it. Because it’s could not be further from the truth.

Did you know that the first diets were introduced during the time when women were trying to fight for equal rights? It’s kind of hard to fight for social justice when you’re hungry all the time.

You’re capable of so much more. You’re capable of DOING so much more, of BEING so much more.

You do not have to exist on this earth in the constant cycle of a weight loss goal. Thinking about every bite of food and spending every Monday starting over.

Life is too short for this.

Unfortunately, it’s not a flip of a switch that will turn this off. As with many things in health and fitness, it’s more like a dial that we gradually turn down.

Little by little, as a result of changing our thoughts, behaviors, and eventually habits, we can take a stand and fight back against these pressures and standards that the media tries to uphold.

It takes time, intentional thought, and action to do this.

Sound familiar? Heck of a lot like some other fitness goals, right?

Well, that’s because it is!

It all takes time and the first step is recognizing the presence of these ideals in our everyday lives. Seeing them on social media, in person, or taking note of comments in conversation.

What can we look for and do to start to turn down the dial?

First, we can notice language that puts one body type above another, comments about burning off food or earning that dessert at the end of the day, and how perfect social media images may appear to be as we scroll.

Once we notice, question. Ask what they mean, if they are real, what is the deeper meaning behind them, and any number of other questions.

Quick tangent because I was having this conversation with a member on Friday. She had asked my opinion on a celebrity who has spoken about health and fitness. While he seems to know a lot and collect a lot of information, he does not possess any formal education or certification in health, fitness, or coaching. We talked, and ultimately, we got onto the topic of questioning.

I think this is an important, and often overlooked skill, but it’s so important to question everything – in health and fitness and beyond.

But, let’s focus on health and fitness. There are many things that seem too good to be true. They might just be – sometimes to our dismay.

Questioning leads us to the deeper why behind a mechanism.

At Unity, one of our core values is “start with why”…It’s also a widely popular book that I would highly recommend by Simon Sinek. Just like the importance of the “why” in our fitness journey, knowing the why (and sometimes the how) behind fads, trends, and quick fixes can show to us whether or not they will be helpful to us.

Question everything.

Now, back to what I was talking about before – Once we notice, we have to call them out and reframe. How can we change the thought, action, or comment to be more beneficial and helpful to us? Perhaps this will be reframing and putting a negative thought into a positive one.

This isn’t always natural to bring up to other people. But start with yourself. Start with reframing your thoughts around what you read, see, and talk about with your friends. While other’s may bring topics up, you can do your best to not be the one to start the conversation as a starting point.

It’s important to note that this will be a very intentional process. Especially at first, like I mentioned previously. It may feel uncomfortable to bring up these topics in conversation. But as you learn more, educate yourself, get better at recognizing and reframing in your own life, you’ll likely want to share this with others.

This brings me to my final tip – I’ve talked about recognizing and reframing. There is A LOT of mindset work wrapped up here because it’s often NOT about the weight loss – there is nearly ALWAYS a deeper reason.

But we also have to have practical advice and action steps. (You guys know I love the action…) The single best thing you can do to start to take up space, focus on what your body can do, and to fight the messages portrayed by mainstream media?

Pick a goal that’s an action.

No, no, not losing weight. Find a distance to cover, learn a new skill, train for a PR in your favorite lift, pick an outdoor adventure this summer.

The options are freaking endless.

And it’s possible. You just have to have a plan to get there and take that first step out the door.

Now, before we get into the EM-powered action for this week, I want to make an important point:

This doesn’t mean you cannot pursue a weight loss goal. Heck, I’m currently in a fat loss phase. BUT it’s about recognizing what your body can DO instead of being consumed with what it looks like. About not ONLY focusing on the fat loss, but about the amazing capabilities of our body in this moment right now.

This brings us to our…

EMPOWERED ACTION

Take time each day to find something you love about you, your abilities, your talents. This isn’t about where you have been in the past or where you could be in the future. This is about the now. Find one thing that you’re proud of that day – a PR in the gym, a flip of a negative mindset into a positive one, a reframe of a situation, the possibilities are endless and it doesn’t have to be fitness related.

While this is a health and fitness focused podcast, I think that the hard things we do in the gym prepare us for the hard things we’re able to handle in life. Taking time to recognize the wins can bring perspective to our lives.


Do you want to listen? This blog post aired on the Fuel Your Freedom Podcast. You can check it out here or search it on all major podcast platforms!

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