Two girls friends walking together

Summertime is in full swing, and for months, many of us have seen memes and posts in our social media feeds about being “swimsuit ready.” There can be a lot of pressure to look a certain way during the warmer months, which can be daunting for some.

The reality is that, by making small changes in our daily lives, we can make a huge difference not only for ourselves as individuals, but also as a society. Self-acceptance begins within, and when we fight back against unrealistic expectations, we can learn to love the skin we’re in — on our own terms.

Rethink Shapewear

Women have a long history with garments designed to mold and constrict their bodies. In fact, the corset, which is meant to compress the organs in the torso, goes back 500 years in Western Society. It was even discovered that the skeletons of Victorian women were deformed from wearing corsets, which were marketed to all women, from childhood through pregnancy and beyond. There’s little chance it was comfortable, but they wore them anyway because the pressure to alter their bodies to meet an unnatural standard was so ingrained in their culture.

Today, many celebrities admit to wearing Spanx, a popular shapewear brand, in their daily lives and to red carpet events. Department stores have entire sections devoted to minimizers and shapers of all kinds. Scroll through any social media feed and you’re bound to see ads for brands such a Shapermint, which has pushed back by saying that shapewear can actually be body positive. But what do the health experts say?

Some doctors, including neurologist, Dr. Orly Avitzur, warn of the dangers of wearing even “just a single layer of body-slimming Lycra.” The medical advisor to Consumer Reports explains that wearing shapewear “can create a host of health dangers, from painful, pinched nerves in the groin, to severe abdominal pain and digestive problems… Constrictive garments have also been implicated in bladder infections, vaginal yeast infections, contact dermatitis and blood clots in the legs.”

Does this mean you should give up all shapewear? Not necessarily. It’s a good idea, however, to reflect on the reasons why you are wearing it and to choose items carefully. When using shapewear, WebMD offers the following suggestions:

  • Get the right fit.
  • Avoid wearing if you’re prone to urinary infections.
  • Consult a doctor before wearing in pregnancy.
  • Start with basics, such as tights.

You could, of course, skip the shapewear all together. This is, however, a highly personal choice, and you’ll have to decide what’s best for you. When it’s hot and muggy, though, give yourself permission to skip the extra layers if you want to! Shapewear is popular because we all have rolls and lumps. Maybe putting yours proudly on display will inspire others to do the same.

In fact, Wear Whatever You Want

We hear stories all the time from women in Hollywood who are told they are the “wrong” age or size to wear certain things or accept certain roles. Sadly, many of us can relate. There’s nothing worse than getting dressed to take on the day and having someone else try to dictate how we look. We need to stop telling others how to dress, and instead, celebrate our individual beauty — even when it means looking fabulous in a bikini at 90!

This summer, wear whatever makes you feel beautiful. Too often, we shy away from bright colors, sheer fabrics, tank tops or shorts because we’re afraid of breaking some arbitrary rules in society about what will look good on our own bodies. Be comfortable, be fabulous and be free! That’s what summertime is for!

Consider a Social Media Detox

When social media first entered our world, it seemed like an innocent, convenient way to keep in touch with our friends and family. It has evolved over time, however, and the glossy, carefully curated and often filtered content differs dramatically from the goofy candids we used to share — and there’s growing evidence that this is impacting the way we see ourselves.

Somewhere along the way, the dynamics shifted and our desire to connect authentically seems to have been replaced by our need to impress. As a society, we’ve become so obsessed with finding the right pose and capturing the perfect shot, that we’ve even seen reports of mountain climbers trying to nudge each out of the way for selfies at the crowded summit of Mount Everest!

How can you tame the madness and preserve your sanity this summer? Delete the apps! Even if it’s just a short break, a social media detox might feel incredible. If you really think you can’t stay away, take a few moments to look through your feed. How does it affect you? If the impact is negative, hit the unfollow button. Then, fill your timeline with accounts that focus on positivity.

Do What You Love

There’s something about summertime that feels so alive and adventurous, which is why it’s a great time to do something new. Is there a new hobby (or even seasonal food!) you’ve always wanted to try but never built up the courage to do? There’s no time like the present! We never know what tomorrow might bring, so stop wasting time and get out there!

Again, don’t let your fitness level, age, gender, size or fear of failure hold you back. If you’ve got to modify it or ease into it slowly, so be it. As long as you’re living your best life and doing what you love, that’s all that matters!

Hide the Scale

Did you know that your weight can fluctuate by up to five or six pounds in a single day? Many factors — what you ate, whether you’ve exercised, medications and hormones, for example — can contribute to temporary bloating and weight gain, and most of them are normal. So, why stress yourself out?

An article published by Prevention discussed what happens when we stop stepping on the scale every day. Many report being more internally directed to make better dietary choices and feel the pressure to maintain a certain weight lifted from their shoulders. In truth, you might actually gain a few pounds, but your body image could improve without the daily weigh-ins.

For some, though, the scale is an important way to stay on track, so if you’ve tried to tuck it away for a while and it didn’t work out, no one’s telling you not to weigh yourself. When the scale controls your life, however, you may need to reevaluate your relationship with it. No matter what, if you feel strong, healthy and comfortable in your clothes, don’t let a number shake your confidence.

Summer — On Your Own Terms

If you’ve made it to the end of this piece, then you’ll know that it’s all about having a great summer on your own terms. Enjoy the people, places, hobbies and foods that you love without feeling the need to apologize for being yourself.

Instead, embrace your natural, authentic self and protect against negativity. Thank your miraculous, magnificent body for all of the thingsit does for you each and every day and then give yourself the love and respect you deserve. You’ve earned it!