7 Powerful Thoughts for Overcoming Bathing Suit Angst
The summer’s here and it’s a time for celebration, right? Sadly, for many this season is underlined by self-doubt, anxiety and pressure due to the concept of getting ‘beach body ready’.
We actively promote positive body image and the path to learning to love yourself, but the fear many associate with the beach and bathing suits is where struggles with our bodies rise to the surface and damage our emotional wellbeing, which is just as applicable for men as for women.
“Oh no, I can’t wear a bathing suit, people will judge me”
“I don’t look good enough to wear a swimsuit”
“I need to stop eating to make sure I can wear my bikini this year”
These and other thoughts flood the minds of people before a holiday or a trip to the beach. This reaction and concerns about our body image are primarily the result of atypical standards of beauty portrayed in the media, advertising, film, social media and more. This prototype of a beach body that’s tanned, chiselled and sexy can make us strive to that standard, and if we fall short it rocks our confidence and self-esteem.
Understanding why some people dread the bathing suit
Body dysmorphic disorder or BDD is when someone constantly finds flaw in their appearance and often compares their looks with others. The underlying cause of this mental health condition is associated with genetics or experiences in your childhood, accelerated by the societal messages about how our bodies should look.
Research conducted by Dove concluded that as many as 96% of women in the UK feel anxious about the way they look, demonstrating the widespread problems people have with body image. But this phenomenon is not exclusive to women – NHS data from 2017 showed that the number of men admitted to hospital with an eating disorder had risen by 70% in the previous six years.
During a summer on the beach feelings of BDD and low self-esteem can heighten dramatically with more skin on show, and as a result people will shy away from putting on their bathing suit for fear of judgement. It can also lead to the development of deeply unhealthy habits in pursuit of the perfect beach body, such as anorexia, bulimia and emotional overeating.
Boosting body confidence and overcoming the bathing suit bugbear relies on establishing a healthier, positive relationship with the skin we’re in. Our team at Therapy for You can help you cultivate this relationship by identifying the causes of your low self-confidence and gradually introducing techniques and thoughts to feel better about your body.
To give you a head-start on the way to feeling more body confident, try using these seven strong internal thoughts to help you feel more at home in your bathing suit.
7 positive thoughts to overcome bathing suit fears
“I’m already beach-body ready”
You're probably familiar with the advertising associated with gyms, diet plans and fashion brands on getting 'beach body ready', like the controversial Protein World advert from 2015. These visuals have created an unhealthy perspective of what type of body you require to wear a bathing suit, when the fact is that there are no standards. If you want to work on your shape, that's your prerogative, but remember that you were born beach body ready.
“Everyone is unique”
We often can't help but compare our bodies to others, particularly on the beach where there's typically more skin on show. With the influence of social media this issue has only accelerated, resulting in feelings of envy towards people with 'better' bodies and decreased self-worth. If you find yourself negatively comparing yourself to others, acknowledge that you're doing it, spend a few minutes noting down your positive qualities either internally or on paper, and remember that if everyone looked the same, life would be pretty bland.
“My body does so much for me”
When we're critical of ourselves and our body image in particular, it can be difficult to appreciate how much our bodies do for us. Our bodies shelter us, take us to interesting places around the world and carry us throughout life. Before breaking out your bathing suit, take 10-15 minutes to note down everything your body does for you and be grateful for it. This can help you take a more loving attitude to your body, rather than focus on flaws.
“Nobody is looking at me”
It's perfectly natural to feel self-conscious in a bathing suit, and feel like everyone around is staring at you. This results in heightened self-consciousness and a desire to cover-up. In reality, most people's focus is firmly whatever it is they're doing, and on the beach in summer there will be so many people around, that you'll comfortably blend into the crowd. Even if someone does judge you, it says more about their state of mind than yours - what's important is accepting your body just the way it is.
“I’ll do as much as I’m comfortable with”
Don't feel pressured to put on your bathing suit if it's not your style, but at the same time don't allow a sense of dread or a lack of confidence to be what's stopping you. The journey to feeling at home in your swimsuit should be taken at your own pace, which is something we focus on through our courses. Start small by wearing your bathing suit around the house to become more comfortable with it on, or matching it with a cover-up for that awkward journey from the car to the beach. Plus, make sure your bathing suit fits your body type, as your comfort is key to building confidence around your body image.
“I’m with people who love me”
Surrounding yourself with a network of people who care about you is crucial to overcoming fears and anxieties, particularly in relation to body image. If you associate with people who regularly judge or critique the way you look or dress, that could hinder you from busting out the bathing suit. Don't give your inner critic a supporting cast, and instead lean on your friends and family for reassurance if you're feeling concerned - they'll help divert focus away from what you're wearing onto the fun you're having on the beach!
“I love myself”
Above all else, it’s important to love ourselves and our bodies. When you notice yourself criticising the way you look in your bathing suit, acknowledge this and write it down. Then challenge this perception and fight it with something you love about yourself, be it physical, mental or emotional. Challenging our inner critic is crucial to overcoming body image issues, so we understand that we’re not perfect but we love who we are.
Beat the summertime blues
We hope these seven thoughts prove effective in banishing anxieties surrounding your bathing suit and building a more sympathetic relationship with our body image. Our bodies do so much for us and are a big part of who we are, and forging a loving relationship with ours is a great way to feel more confident and secure, especially on a trip to the beach.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by a negative body image or low self-esteem, speaking to a qualified therapist can be a big step towards feeling better. Contact our team at Therapy for You on 01268 739 128 for more information about our courses to overcome a lack of confidence and building a better attitude to the way you feel about yourself.