I know of no other season that causes women so much angst as the summer time — that glorious time of year when it’s hot and muggy out and we’re invited to the beach/pool/lake to enjoy the good weather by donning our bathing suits (which appear to be made smaller by the year) and luxuriating in the sunshine on our beach towels.
I’m sure I’m not alone when I state that nothing makes me nuttier than when I’m expected to wear a bathing suit out in public. I transform from being a mature, worldly, educated, competent woman into an insecure neurotic obsessed being who curls into a ball and cries at the thought of wearing a one-piece. Okay, maybe I’d consider a “tankini” (Goddess bless whomever invented those woman-friendly two piece getups). But why does this happen to me and to so many of us?
As a psychotherapist who specializes in helping women with food and body image, I have given this much thought and what I believe it comes down to are the following:
1. Media portrayals of stick-thin women as being the only ‘normal’ and acceptable size and shape for women
2. The pernicious and yet powerful diet industry that is always trying to convince us that we, too, can be thin if we just have enough willpower
3. The “thinness is next to godliness” cult-like phenomenon our society has developed over the last century
4. Our worship of physical fitness and health, which is defined by over-exercising (often to the point of injury) and eating a pure and wholesome diet (those who transgress are often scorned in public and behind their backs)
5. Competition amongst ourselves — how many times have you been praised by other women for losing weight, only to be met with disapproving looks from the same women when you gain it back?
Make summer more enjoyable by remembering the following:
Esther’s Top Five Tips For Loving The Skin You’re In
1. Remember this fact: 98 percent of women are not built like fashion models and come in a variety of shapes and sizes and the majority of these women are not thin.
2. Remember the reason you’re baring skin in the first place — to do fun and relaxing activities you enjoy like swimming, feeling the sun on your skin, lying around reading a good book, or playing with your kids — you’re not in a fashion show.
3. Remind yourself that the people around you are not obsessing about the size or shape of your body; that’s YOUR stuff — they’ve got other more important things to be thinking about.
4. If you want younger generations of women to love and accept their bodies, be a role model and show them that you don’t buy into media stereotypes of how women are supposed to look.
5. Eat sensibly and exercise regularly but don’t be obsessive about it — you’ll feel better about yourself and your body as a result.
Kane is the author of the soon-to-be-released book and audio program, “It’s Not About the Food: A Woman’s Guide To Making Peace with Food and Our Bodies.” Sign up for her free monthly e-zine, Women’s Community Counsellor, to uplift and inspire women at: www.estherkane.com.