By: Abbey Lyn Clark, Regular Contributor
Summer: Time to break out the flip-flops, daisy dukes, and sunscreen. What did I leave out? Oh yeah, the bikini. For about 8 months of the year I spend my time in Boston, also known as the city of unpredictable weather and frigid New England winters. For the rest of the year I travel home to Eastern Long Island where I enjoy my summer working and going to the beach. It’s a pretty sweet deal because I am just a bus ride away from New York City and a ferry ride away from traveling up to New England if I want to visit my sister or friends. However, the only issue I have with switching my wardrobe over for the summer months is the outstanding pressure to maintain a flat stomach and rocking beach body.
All bodies are different; there is not one kind of beautiful. However, if you take a trip out to the Hamptons, the socialites who are saturated with superficial limelight and slathered up with tanning oil will tell you otherwise. I caught myself viciously critiquing my body the first time I put on a bikini this summer and mentally noting all the places on my body that I needed to tone more. While I think fitness is extremely important, I don’t think it’s healthy when you start making choices on how your body should look based on everyone else’s expectations of how it should look. You should tone it because you want to, not because the latest issue of Cosmo is telling you to.
I think it’s safe to say that I could never make it at a school where this pressure is year round. Other than missing my sweaters, leggings, and clunky boots, I would be constantly comparing myself to others. My cousin goes to school in Florida. When I went to visit her I was astounded by how different girls take control of their body image and fascinated why they do this. My cousin has at least a dozen bathing suits if not more because Floridians use bathing suits like underwear. They wear them to class underneath their clothes and tan in between classes at one of the many pools located on their campus. So many of them critique their bodies and go on ridiculous diets to maintain a yearlong beach body; it’s like they are constantly preparing for a maxim photo shoot or spring break trip to Punta Cana.
This being said, I’m making gross exaggerations to make a point (not every girl who lives in a warm weather climate does this). Not every girl cares this much about what their body looks like in front of others and these are the girls that should be applauded. The girls that have amazing beach bods because they take great pleasure in knowing that they are fit, trim, and healthy should be applauded too. They’re making choices for themselves and not making popular culture call the shots.
Every body type is different and despite the tremendous pressure to have washboard abs during the summer (or year round for some), you should love your body for how it is and love it because it’s yours. They say your body is a temple and it’s true. It’s the only body you’ve got so flaunt it, love it, pamper it, and work it. Spend your summer having fun in the sun instead of worrying what everyone else is thinking of how you look in that bikini. After all, you’re the one who will be wearing it.
About Abbey: Abbey Clark is a rising senior majoring in English and Human Development at Boston College. Along with being the I AM THAT GIRL local chapter leader at BC, she is also a yoga instructor and the co-president of her all female a cappella group: The BC Sharps. She loves spending time with her friends & family, baking, and traveling. She is an advocate of healthy living, real beauty, and is so proud to be part of such a beautiful organization that is changing the world for women and girls!