Summer weather is a few short weeks away. For many, this is a time of excitement: beach trips, tanning, riding with the windows down, pool days, etc. And naturally, if you go to the beach or you’re laying by the pool, you just HAVE to post it on every social media outlet showing of your bathing suit or lack there of. If you don’t, did you even go to the beach?
For some, rather than the excitement of showing off your summer bod, these next few weeks leading into the summer bring anxiousness, self consciousness and overall dreading the summer months, all due to self image.
Us ladies all know how it is -- shopping for swimwear can be a hassle. You scroll down Facebook and what’s on the margin? Bathing suit ads. So you click, because the advertisement looks intriguing. You see a woman who is at least 5’10’’, sun-kissed, blonde and not a chance she weighs over 125 pounds. But she looks so good in this suit, so you decide to give it a whirl and buy it online. A few days later you try on the suit that arrives in the mail, and you’re left with nothing but utter disappointment and the feeling that you need to look different than you already do.
At this point in the process, the mind warping begins. “What do I have to do to look like these models?” “People think this is attractive, so if I don’t look like that, I’m not attractive.” “They probably hardly eat, so I should start to do the same.”
In the past decades, the media has made young teenage girls feel compelled to look a certain way due to the way they advertise their models. And I’m not saying that these models are anything less than radiant. They are gorgeous. However, the qualities that some of these women possess are simply unrealistic for some women to ever obtain. I’m just barely over 5 foot. I have wanted long legs for as long as I can remember, probably because I saw Victoria’s Secret Models with these spidery long legs that I just had to have. But one day I finally realized it just wasn’t in the cards for me. Maybe after an overabundance of online purchased bathing suits that sat in a drawer due to disappointment.
In recent years, Aerie has made serious strides in this divide between realistic body image and media body image. They have started a campaign called “Aerie real” in which they vow to not re-touch or alter their women in their advertisements. They promote women of all different sizes, sizes that the general public can relate to, wearing their products. The best part? They haven’t just restricted to women who are above a size 2. They have plenty of beautiful models that are well under a size 2, but they simply don’t retouch them and it is evident on their website. If a girl has a little bit of cellulite, or her ribs are showing in the way she poses, that’s okay. It’s realistic. (See below.)