Apr 20th, 2023, 09:00 AM

Choosing Body Positivity this Summer

By Kylie Fast
Image by Rani Suarni from Pixabay
Waving goodbye to age old narratives written by diet culture and hello to unconditional acceptance.

Spring is here and with it, the hoard of intrusive ads, articles and stubborn loved ones all repeating the phrase “beach body ready”. It's as if it’s the latest mantra their spiritual life coach has told them, but what does it really mean to be “beach body ready”? 

Harmful ads promoting diet culture and fat shaming infiltrate cities around the globe.


There are two different answers to this question. The first version is a narrative told by the ad showing a tall blonde in an impossibly tiny bikini sporting both an eight-pack and the latest diet shake that promises to deliver the aforementioned eight-pack. It is an answer rooted in diet culture and furthermore, our capitalistic society that profits off insecurity and the feeling of never being good enough. This narrative tells us that if you are a tall, white, thin, able-bodied, cisgender woman with just the right amount of curve, then congratulations! You get to go to the beach this summer and feel confident. If you do not match this description to a T, sorry sweetcheeks, better luck next life. 

This answer sucks for obvious reasons. Not only does it exclude most of us reading this, but it also discounts the vast majority of our friends, family and loved ones. If it doesn’t, then maybe you should expand your bubble. So why does this narrative persist? Or, maybe a better question, what’s the alternative to this narrative? Prepare to have your mind blown: the alternative answer to “What does it really mean to be ‘beach body ready’?” is that anyone who lives in a body, who is excited to go to the beach this season is beach body ready. If you read Answer Version 2.0 and found yourself thinking “Hey! That sounds too good to be true!”, then you my friend, have been a victim of diet culture. Fret not, most of us are or have been at some point in our lives. Furthermore, have faith, because there are practices each of us can adopt to ensure that one day, Answer Version 2.0 is the only answer.

When breaking down belief systems, the first and often most important step is looking inward. We have to ask ourselves tough questions and get to the root of our own underlying biases and stigmas. No one wants to carry these and yet, if we are not honest with ourselves about our own learned or inherited harmful beliefs—as ugly as they may be—we strip ourselves of the power to find new truths. Once the dirty laundry is out on the line, we can ask and determine for ourselves what values we want to uphold—society’s two cents be damned. We can ask how we would like others to treat us, how would we like others to treat our daughters, or sisters or friends. In this, we are allotted the space to build a new framework for our belief systems. One grounded in inclusivity, diversity and love. With such a foundation, it is easier to embrace body positivity not only for others, but for ourselves too.

This might take form in a number of different ways but a great way to get started is by choosing a few affirmations that resonate with you and can serve as reminders to embrace your body in every shape and size. These can be used almost as mantras to help combat any intrusive diet culture thoughts and/or beliefs that arise. A couple examples include:

“I love and respect my body as it is today.”

“My body radiates joy and beautiful kindness.”

“I respect my body’s blueprint.”

“Let my love and respect for my body serve as an example so that the girls and women around me might do the same.”

Once our own inner dialogue has been addressed, it is important to build an awareness of how you either perpetuate or mitigate harmful beliefs with your external dialogue and actions. Do you vilify diet culture or the things diet culture taught you to treat with disgust? When you are out with friends, do you make comments regarding the food you’re all enjoying that could trigger shame, embarrassment or negative self-talk? Do you find yourself shaming your own body in front of others or apologizing either in words or actions for your appearance? Once you build an awareness of even the most subtle of habits you have that are rooted in diet culture, you can actively choose to act otherwise and eventually, encourage those around you to do the same.

Fill your social media feeds with accounts that promote positivity rather than accounts that spark shame or comparison.

Don’t ruin the vibes this summer by spreading the hateful ways of diet culture. Instead, embrace a stance of body positivity and inclusion by giving to others the love, respect and care we all deserve…because all bodies are beach bodies.