We are all ‘Beach Body Ready’
The Summer months are upon us. Lighter evenings, baby animals in the fields and our winter layers are, for the most part, now hanging in the wardrobe (unless you live in Wales in which case, we will also need that winter coat within reaching distance). Summer can be a great time for making fun memories with family and friends, but unfortunately, summer is also a time where it’s impossible to not think about your body.
For a long time, I felt completely insecure about the way I looked. HS is visible. It effects everyone differently and as no two people are the same, I can only talk about my experiences of having an illness that shows on the surface. My flares were typically in my bikini area. Each year, I would feel consumed with anxiety about how I could hide what I considered to be (at the time) a hideous part of myself. A part of myself that made me hate my body. A part of myself that made me think that I could not put on swimwear or enjoy leisure time at a pool or on the beach. It would keep me awake at night and I cried more tears than I care to admit. I don’t feel that way anymore, but many people do.
In fact, I think insecurities about our bodies and physical appearance is now more prominent than ever. It's 2022 and whilst we all know that what we see online, is not always a true representation it’s still hard not to compare. It saddens me that our newsfeeds are inundated with adverts for getting the “perfect body”, fad diets and in some cases completely ridiculous and dangerous methods of losing weight or getting flawless skin. During my darkest moments, it’s these types of adverts that would add to my anxiety. I can say honestly that body image played a part in my mental health struggles and I don’t think I’m alone with that.
I see (and have experienced) the typical concerns that many women have. I could probably write an entire blog listing them, but I was curious to find out if men have similar thoughts about body image. I recently put this question out there and the response I had was overwhelming. Self-esteem, confidence, and an overall feeling of not being ‘good enough’ is something that is experienced by everyone. Nobody is exempt and even though some people don’t show it, we all have body image issues.
But, what can we do to change it?
For me, it took a lot of self-care, self-development, and self-discovery. I know how that sounds, but truthfully it’s been the only thing that has helped me. There are still moments where I have insecure thoughts and compare myself to the incredibly beautiful images on social media, but those moments are fleeting now. I have accepted what I once called “flaws” and I now see them as perfect imperfections. My scars are a part of me. They tell a story and honestly, despite the hurt they have caused me they’ve also made me realise how strong I am. Without that, perhaps I would never have realised.
I do think there is space to consider how we can all be the healthiest version of ourselves, and sometimes, yes that requires a little action. But, finding that version of us will not be possible through punishing our bodies. It’s not possible through forcing ourselves to feel guilty about what we eat, or not going out for a run or whatever it may be! Finding that version of us, is only possible if we change our narratives. If we do this, we can change how we feel about ourselves. So, instead of striving to look a certain way, let’s strive to feel strong physically and mentally. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, lets start thinking about how awesome we are as individuals and the amazing things we have to offer. Instead of scrolling social media accounts that make us feel unhappy, lets hit follow on accounts that make us feel inspired. Instead of hiding away this summer, we can step into the sunshine with confidence knowing that regardless of our size, our skin, our age, our gender… we are ALL, beach body ready.
I have so much more to say on this and for anyone that would like to talk further, you can find me on Instagram @bemery92 or @fuel_yourfeelgood.
For now though, I will leave you with this amazing insight from a fellow HS Connect advocate:
“Almost everyone struggles with the perception of our body, and like most other males I am no exception. I think many of us develop an ideal mental image only to (hopefully) one day realize that we hold ourselves to very unrealistic standards. For me, developing a lifestyle that embraces mindfulness and being present to every moment has given me the confidence to embrace the scars on my body. I’ll never be perfect and I’m comfortable with that. Another way I have grown to love my body is by understanding proper communication and body language. People usually remember how they felt in our presence more than any other detail about us. A genuine smile can go a long way and have a lasting effect.” - Dominick Juliano, HS Connect