Are you drinking detox teas and following skinny celebs on Insta and working out for an hour per day in activepants that cost $159 and somehow still pill at the crotch? Okay great, stop all that. Here are the real tips for getting yourself ready to bare all this summer.
PURGE AND DETOX
Social media make a lot of us feel anxious and insecure, so trim the fat from your feeds. Question what you’re really getting from #fitspo or #training tags. Be wary of following accounts that celebrate thinness or willpower as a talent. Does body-focussed content make you feel positive and motivated or does it exist as a taunting reminder to stay on track with unrealistic weight goals? How many ‘holding a smoothie in a sports bra’ selfies do you need to see every day, really? Remember that we all have a complex attachment to social media and behaviours like comment lurking, hate-following and checking up on people doesn’t make you a bad person, it just doesn’t do a lot for your self-esteem. As a balance, seek and support content that nourishes you emotionally and feeds you intelectually. Put progressive role models in front of your eyeballs regularly by following body-loving accounts like Lizzo, Celeste Barber, Ashley Graham, Dascha Polanco, Jameela Jamil’s ‘I Weigh’ campaign and the Anti-Diet Riot Club.
The next thin to tackle is dodgy advertising. How familiar is this scenario: You decide to follow a big reality TV person because she’s funny and pretty and writes clever captions for her brunch/baby/doggo posts. The next minute, you’re being swamped on every social platform with ads for dermal fillers, detox shakes, and eyelash extensions. What the hell? Advertisers make connections between our casual scrolling interests and our shopping habits, which is understandable from a demographic targeting point of view, but it’s RUDELY assumptive, patronising and often coated in patriarchal frosting. ‘We see you followed Gigi Hadid AND the new Bachelorette! Here, have some collagen!”
Exposure creates desensitisation and these frequent ads make us question ourselves – hang on, is everyone doing cellulite freezing now? Maybe I should click through and just get a price list? Of course, we are free to follow whomever and whatever we want online, that’s our choice. What we should take issue with, is advertisers assuming that what must logically follow an interest in celebrity culture is dissatisfaction with our own bodies and a desire to change them. Break the chain by marking ads as not relevant if you’re not interested in these products. Click the ‘see less of this’ button in your discovery feed to alter what you’re being served. If you’re the type to find it helpful to complain directly, write to or tweet at brands if they’re being particularly offensive with a product line. Get mad! It’s fun.
SET REALISTIC GOALS!
Next, observe the manipulative use of language that targets women specifically. We’re encouraged to ‘indulge’ in chocolate and ‘pamper’ ourselves with massages. Women who are post-pregnancy are a particularly vulnerable target for products to help you ‘bounce back’ to that sacred time before baby when your body was pre-ruined. Why must we be bouncing anywhere? Seems unnecessary. A skin clinic I passed at a major shopping centre declared ‘you deserve juicy party lips!’ Since when did lip injections become a normalised beauty essential? Lucky us, another womanly treat we get to spend our good money on. ALSO, WTF ARE PARTY LIPS?
Women are made to feel guilty about pretty much everything, which is why ‘guilt-free’ is such a common marketing phrase around food. Anything with sugar, fat, or carbs has become a luxury item – a discreet purchase that we need to offset with exercise or by being good. The concept of ‘good and bad’ is part of the mental food maths women do each week to assess whether or not they’re allowed to eat something. What a time waster. The other problem with this sneaky language? It suggests that food is special, and also off-limits. As in, ‘You’re not really supposed to have this’. Women should be depriving themselves, most of the time, in the pursuit of being their best selves. I smell full-fat bullshit.
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One great area to spend money on? Swimwear. Apply the same guideline you use for bras and buy the very best quality you can afford. No one looks their best in cheap, unstructured fabric, no matter what size you are.
DON’T SPEND MONEY!
Be cautious about unqualified influences selling unregulated (and useless) weight-loss potions and powders via link in bio marketplaces. These swindlers delete critical comments or legitimate questions about the validity of their products in a way that ethical businesses never would.
Don’t order Kardashian body paint that makes you look Barbie-smooth. You do not need to buff yourself into oblivion with polishes and light reflecting diamond particles. You are not a Mazda.
Don’t sign up for programs that are thinly veiled orthorexic regimes. Often, there’s acknowledgement that eating clean is so hard but worth it, implying that you could do it too, if you cared enough, wanted it badly enough and tried hard enough. Off you fuck wth that nonsense.
GET LIGHTER, FAST!
We all know acutely what it feels like to never be enough. To be targeted and shamed into taking up less space, to have our very natural existence feel like an inconvenience or a thing that can – and should – be modified and improved. It’s a universal experience for women, no matter what size. We don’t need to become overly cynical, but we can be aware of these little clusters of putrid toxicity in our lives and question whether we need to engage with it. Do less of the stuff that feels like oppressive bullshit. Feel lighter instantly!
ARE YOU REALLY* BIKINI READY?
Words have power, so say nice things about your body. Say nice things about other women’s bodies. A woman in bathers is not brave, it’s just a woman in bathers. Thankfully this is the easy bit: put on swimwear and sunscreen. You’re ready!
We were so lucky to chat with the incredible body positivity advocate and woman behind the documentary, Embrace, Taryn Brumfitt not long ago. You can watch that whole video series here or watch her give some top tips for learning to love your bod below.