Summer and Body Image

Summer can be a difficult time for those of us with body image struggles. We can no longer comfortably cover up in layers of clothes in an attempt to hide our bodies due to the weather. This can be a great source of both mental and physical discomfort. Mentally, it can be an incredible struggle to see more of our bodies as revealed in our clothing. Additionally, it is not necessarily physically comfortable either for those of us who struggle with what is often called “chub rub”.  This is when parts of our body rubbing together causes irritation for friction. (Thighs are the most common area of complaint for this).

Unfortunately, these issues can often exacerbate each other. I experienced a good example of this on a recent vacation. It was a very warm destination so I was wearing dresses and shorts for the first time this year. We also were doing quite a bit of walking around which meant before too long, I was experiencing “chub rub”. I noticed the sensation would start to bother me and then be followed immediately by thoughts such as “I’m too fat I need to diet” or “I shouldn’t be wearing this it doesn’t look good on me. These were not thoughts I have had for some time so I was very taken aback by them. Then it dawned on me,  the feelings of physical discomfort I was having were triggering my mental discomfort. I was feeling physically uncomfortable and the only solution my mind was going to was “that must mean I’m fat so I must need to diet”. So apart from dieting (which has not even been shown to be successful for long term weight loss), what can we do when we are noticing ourselves feeling physically uncomfortable in the summer months?

The first thing that it is helpful to really take an honest look at is the clothes you are wearing. Are you wearing last year’s shorts that are a little too tight? Are you wearing a length of short, skirt, or dress that just doesn’t work well for your body? It sounds overly simplistic but being able to be open to trying on new types (and sizes) of clothing items is a big step to being more comfortable in our bodies. More importantly still, is really making a concerted effort to not by clothing that you don’t feel amazing in.

One trick that I’ve had many clients use with great success is grabbing multiple items (ideally in several sizes) and try them on facing away from the mirror when possible. While not facing the mirror, evaluate how well it fits you and how comfortable it is. If you feel comfortable in it, turn and face the mirror and only then evaluate if you like how it looks.  Again, it may sound simple but I find it really helps with buying only the clothes that truly fit us well and maybe more importantly, that we truly love. Also, please keep in mind that regardless of the season, you have the right to wear clothing that you are comfortable in, If that means rocking those short shorts that’s wonderful, but if that means wearing jeans and a t shirt because that’s more comfortable to you, that is more than ok.