Summer is now here: it's time to celebrate!
For most of us, this includes going to the beach, lake, or pool. But these fun days in the sun require the dreaded task of putting on a bikini or one piece.
Society is so tough on women's bodies. You're not allowed to have cellulite, stretch marks, or any sort of flaw that shows that you're a human. Photoshop makes waists smaller, and butts and breasts bigger. Age spots, wrinkles, and acne are wiped away with the touch of a mouse.
We're told that you must eat practically nothing and work out for hours a day in order to be beautiful. We're told that we're not enough by the shows and movies we watch, the magazines we read, and the social media posts we scroll through each and every day. You're considered desirable only if you're a size 0 or 2.
To conform to these unattainable standards, we do everything in our power to change how we look. We bend over backwards, deprive ourselves, and push our bodies to their maximum limit. For what? To look like Kendall Jenner in her barely-there bikini?
News flash: the Kendall Jenner on the cover of magazines doesn't look like the real Kendall Jenner.
To the girl reading this right now: don't workout to achieve a bikini body! You're amazing just the way you are.
I bet Kendall Jenner in everyday life doesn't look like she does when she's at red carpet events. I'm sure she deals with the same insecurities that we all do. Why do I think that? Because she is a human just like you and I.
I'm not promoting a sedentary lifestyle with poor eating habits, but cut yourself some slack. Your body is unique because nobody looks exactly like you. That is your superpower. Embrace yourself for who you are, inside and out.
Workout for yourself, and not anyone else.
Don't workout to seek approval of others. Don't have a "thinspiration", a weight on the scale, or a number in your head you want to stick to. Don't overexert yourself. Don't count calories, whether if it's the amount burned in a workout, or how much you eat.
Workout because the endorphins make you feel good. Workout because you love seeing the progress in the mirror, and in your mind. Workout to relieve stress. Workout to be strong, not a stick figure. Eat the foods that will sustain you. Eat the foods that will fuel your brain, and allow you to go through day-to-day activities.
The goal is to be happy and healthy. To do this, you must have a balance.
The best way to do this is to follow the 80/20 rule. Nourish your body and exercise most of the time, but let yourself have a cheat day every once-in-a-while. There's amazing events in life that you don't want to miss out on just because you're afraid that extra piece of pizza or glass of wine will offset the work you put in earlier that day. Let yourself off the hook.
If you're afraid someone will judge you for eating ice cream, or deciding not to go to the gym because you had a busy day and got tired, get rid of those people in your life. They're toxic. You don't need negative energy in your life. These type of people won't help you grow: they will limit you.
What's the first (and only step) in achieving a bikini body? Put it on.
Yes, it's that simple. Your natural beauty is stunning compared to the intense, unreal images we see every day. What's more important is what's on the inside. Enjoy your summer, because you never know how many you have on this earth.
Life is too short to be at war with your body. Don't miss out on life because of an insecurity. Give your body love, and it will give it back. You should give your body a pat on the back. It is capable of so many wonderful things. Without it, your soul wouldn't be able to reside in the world.
It'll take some getting used to at first, but you will get there.
The road to being comfortable in your own skin isn't easy, but it is possible. As cliche as it is, difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. I still struggle with self image every now and then, and it's quite common for women to feel this way. I believe that no woman should feel ashamed for wearing a swimsuit.
There is nothing wrong with you or your body. There is everything wrong with how society views women. Women are women, no matter their shape or size. Wear that swimsuit proudly; your confidence will shine.