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By Faith Collier

“Now that summer is here, I need to lose weight and get healthy to get my body swimsuit ready!”

“I am not summer body ready!”

“I need to lose weight for bikini season."

We’ve all heard it - whether it was on social media, or said by a family member, stranger, friend, or even yourself. There is this bizarre misconception that every year, for the summer months, one must change themselves physically by dieting and working out more in order to wear a swimsuit, and this misconception seems to pop up everywhere. Just last week, a close friend joked to me that she has to start a diet soon to get her “summer body” ready. And this morning on Facebook I saw a meme with an adorable baby looking at its tummy with the caption “ When you’re cute, but you’re not summer body ready”.

Year after year, I continue to hear these types of remarks and statements, and typically I just laugh it off or nod uncomfortably. Logically, I know that the idea that losing weight because of seasonal expectations is silly, but a small part of me always feels the need to conform to these expectations. But this year, I would like to actually take this comment seriously, and look at the negative mentality it creates towards body image and body positivity. 

Firstly, losing weight and being thin doesn’t necessarily mean someone is healthy. 

Ever since I was a little girl, I was always taught that if you were thin, you were healthy. And if you were bigger, then you weren’t. It was as simple as that. However, I have come to learn that this is most certainly NOT true. You can be any shape or size and still be healthy and active. Your weight does not define who you are, nor does it define your “healthy-ness”. As an example, look at all different types of athletes  - sprinters, basketball players, gymnasts, swimmers, even sumo wrestlers! They all have different body types, yet are all extremely active and passionate about their individual sport. If you really want to be healthier, take time to do things you love, and most importantly, aim for balance. You can enjoy both cake and vegetables, and everything in between. You can be active and you can relax and rest! Giving yourself permission to slow down can be incredibly therapeutic and calming in itself.

Secondly, ALL bodies are swimsuit bodies! Say it with me: “All bodies are swimsuit bodies!”. You don’t have to change yourself in order to wear a swimsuit and enjoy the sunshine. Swimsuits are meant to be worn and enjoyed. So, strut your stuff my friend, and own your body, because it is you and you are fabulous in every shape and form. Just make sure to stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, and have some fun!

And lastly, just because it is summer, doesn’t mean you need to change. Summer is just another season of the year, it is no different than Fall, Spring or Winter. Just slightly warmer temperature-wise. You can be healthy and happy with yourself and your body all year round no matter what the weather or what you choose to wear! If you are holding back from having fun in the summer for whatever reason, make a list of one thing you will do a day or every few days that is fun and enjoyable for you and do your best to follow through. By allowing yourself to have fun and engage in an activity that brings you joy, you can take your mind off your body and societal expectations and instead move into the present moment - a useful practice for any time of year!

Ultimately, your weight or how you look does not define who you are. Nor should it invalidate your existence. You are a beautiful person, both inside and out. There are so many reasons why the concept of having to lose weight for summer in order to wear a swimsuit is ridiculous and flawed. So this year, fight the idea that you have to look or be a certain way to wear a swimsuit, and instead go out there and enjoy the sunshine (but don’t forget to put on sunscreen!).

My name is Faith and I am currently a nursing student at the University of the Fraser Valley. Ever since recovering from my own eating disorder, I have been passionate about helping others and recently began volunteering with the Looking Glass Foundation after going to their summer camp as a teenager. Some stuff to know about me is that I love learning and trying new things. When I am not at school or studying, you can find me reading, playing with my dog or doing some sort of outdoor activity!