5 Tips for a Bikini Season Body Image Makeover

Posted by Jenni Prange Boran on May 30th 2023

5 Tips for a Bikini Season Body Image Makeover

Summer’s just around the corner!My favorite season.The time of year women with ridiculously perfect bodies grace the covers of all the magazines clad only in swimwear, showcasing their perfectly toned legs and flat abs. One cover promises an ‘old diet trick to lose eight pounds by summer.’ Another warns that ‘time is running out!’ Better yet, these magazines are conveniently placed in the check-out line alongside a seemingly endless variety of candy bars. I find my eyes lingering longingly on these images as I standin line at the grocery store, waiting to pay for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s , a couple of limes and the big bottle of margarita mix.

Is the media in cahoots with the weight-loss industry? Do they think they can just shame us into joining gyms we’ll never go to and hating our bodies enough to blindly take those mysterious diet pills with the crazy thin people doing the tango on the label? The fact of the matter is, this constant barrage of images of the ideal body affects us, and informs our idea of what we ‘should’ look like and how fall we are falling short of that ideal.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Meet Char, my gorgeous, sassy friend, constantly surrounded by women who want to be her and men who want to be with her. She’s a singer. When she gets on stage, the room is quiet. Time stops. Her charisma is off the charts. Oh, and she weighs at least two-hundred pounds. Her hair’s all wrong too, worn short and dyed whatever color was on sale at Rite-Aid three weeks earlier. Oh, and she’s no spring chicken either. By media standards, Char should probably just curl up in the basement and hide until sweaters, jeans and boots weather comes around again.

That’s just it, she doesn’t. Her self-image is something to be envied, and I wish it were contagious. I believe in staying healthy and, truth be told, I do always try to ‘get in shape’ before shorts weather. But I can’t stand the feeling of deprivation and desperation I get when I try to reach that perfect body image that has now been ingrained in my mind. I wondered if there was a way to increase my self-image while getting into shape.Must dieting and self-image be mutually exclusive?

I asked Char how she maintains her glowingly healthy self-image. Some tips from Char:

Forget “Dieting”

Little did I know that, while Char is heavy by media standards, by her standards she’s finally thin! When she started college, tight schedules, the stress of schoolwork and late night eating caused her to gain 80 pounds in a single year. She tried several diets, but none worked. That’s when she started singing; suddenly she was on her feet and moving across the stage for several hours each night. She found something she was passionate about that took time away from late night binging and alleviated her stress- and depression-induced snacking.Instead of obsessing over counting calories, find something you love to do, something that gets you active and feels like a joyful release rather than a regimented workout. If you want to meet people, find something social like a dance class or team-oriented challenge courses like Tough Mudder. If you’re already over-booked socially, find something more solitary and meditative like hot yoga or running.The sooner you get more active and passionate about an activity, you’ll be surprised to see how your food choices change and adjust to your new outlook. As your body takes care of you, you’ll be more inclined to want to take care of it.

Ignore Dress Sizes and Magazine Covers

Flex your critical eye when it comes to magazine covers, ads, clothing sizes, everything and anything that is manufactured to make us feel a certain way about ourselves in order to get us to buy something. As Char so wisely puts it, “There’s a reason these women are on the cover of magazines, because no one else looks like them.” How can, for example, a working mom of two expect to look like someone whose entire job it is to wear a bikini on the cover of a magazine? These images are meant to catch our eye, meant to sell the product. Judge yourself by your own barometer. When do you feel comfortable in your body? What makes you feel strong?

Lose the Scale

A strong case can be made against weighing yourself. For one thing, weight is not a complete measure of health. If, for instance, you have become active in something that has increased your muscle mass, you may have actually gained weight, but lowered your body fat percentage and increased your metabolism.The scale doesn’t show you the positives, though. All you see is that, despite all you’re doing, you still haven’t reached that magic number you’ve had in your head for years. Worse yet, increased numbers on the scale can trigger frustration, depression and emotional eating. Instead of relying on the number of pounds you weigh, be aware of how your body feels in your clothes. Pay attention to how much your breathing has improved when engaging in physical activity, how your tolerance has increased. These are the numbers to measure. If you must weigh yourself, don’t weigh yourself every day. A weekly weigh-in at tops should be enough, and make sure you are weighing yourself at the same time (preferably first thing in the morning), always with the same scale, and without clothes.

Find Your Beauty

Find something you love about yourself each day. You might not love your thighs at the moment, but aren’t you glad you have legs that can walk around and get you places? Or maybe there is a part of you that is beautiful but that you’ve forgotten to showcase. Are your hands particularly young-looking? Paint your nails or wear a favorite ring. Spend some time sprucing them up and admiring them. Do you have a scar that you’ve been hiding? If it’s attached to a childhood memory, change your perspective to reflect an appreciation of the fact that it is the result of something that made you who you are. Maybe it’s a C-section scar, and you have a beautiful child as a result of it. Turn your attitude around any way you can and find the beauty in things you may have either taken for granted, or been ashamed of.Own everything about yourself with pride.

Find the Beauty in Others

Make it a point to find something beautiful in every single person you meet. We are so accustomed to measuring ourselves and everyone around us by conventions of beauty, symmetry, skin tone and texture, color of eyes and hair, and so on and so on, that we forget that everyone is made up of several different features. Notice the sparkling blue eyes of the woman behind the register, rather than the wrinkles around them. Feel free to offer a compliment. You’ll be amazed how you can make someone’s day. Helping to elevate someone else’s self-image can only help elevate your own.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said “As we grow old, the beauty steals inward.” All the workouts and diet tricks and tips ignore this one truth, that conventional physical beauty is fleeting.Strive for beauty on the inside first and foremost, and your glowing self-image will radiate outwards. As with Char, no one will be able to look away from the light you bring into the room.