The first signs of summer might be getting a lot of us excited: sundresses, beer gardens, men walking round with their shirts off like its suddenly socially acceptable. But for a lot of people with eating disorders, scars, body dysmorphia or any other body image issues the pressure that comes with the sunny weather can be a very real trigger for their insecurities. Here’s why you have as much right to feel the sun on your skin as everyone else:
The pressure to fit in
I get it. The absolute dread when the weather starts getting warmer because you’re no longer going to blend in wearing your jeans and a huge sweatshirt. It feels like you’re being attacked from all sides: perfect tans and perfect abs and perfect carefree people. The pressure to look/ act like an Instagram influencer is worse than ever, and the self loathing because you don’t (spoiler alert: they’re all photo-shopped and paid to pretend they’re having fun) is unbearable.
Maybe you’re worried about people seeing your scars, thinking you’re not thin enough or noticing you look thinner than you should. Maybe you’re scared to go to barbecues because people will tell you to “go eat a burger” or maybe you just don’t feel comfortable in your own skin. The sunny weather has a real tendency to make us, quite literally, shine a light on all the things we don’t like about ourselves. But shutting the curtains on it doesn’t make anything better. The best way to deal with it is head on.
Stop making comparisons.
Open Instagram right now (or actually wait until you’ve finished reading) and unfollow every single account that has ever made you think “God I wish I looked like that.” Delete all the screenshots of self deprecating memes joking about getting a summer body (they’re not funny, they’re damaging). Clear all of the at home work outs from your reading list (I know they’re there). Then, put the phone down altogether. You do not exist solely to make yourself look good. In fact, I guarantee your appearance is the least interesting thing about you.
I know that its scary and that one minor setback can send you reeling. But the only way to get comfortable in your own skin is to try. The key, as with anything, is to start small. Try just leaving the house without your jacket, or wearing short sleeves instead of long. The more you get used to these small things, the easier it will be to try for the bigger ones. I’m not saying you need to go skinny dipping in broad daylight any time soon. But you don’t have to be that girl wearing jeans on the beach.
You don’t owe anyone anything
Seriously, screw other people. I know that the faded marks on your arms, the stretch marks on your legs, the scabs that aren’t healing properly because you’re not eating properly, they feel like the biggest thing in the world. But I promise no one else even notices them. And if they do, they probably won’t pay attention for more than a second.
My best advice would be to pretend that those other people don’t exist at all. It’s not up to them to decide how you should look or what you should be eating or anything else in your life. Sunshine is one of the best medicines there is and you sure as hell shouldn’t let them make you shy away from it for fear of their critical gaze. Wear the God damn shorts. You owe it to yourself.