A weekend on the beach should be the ultimate experience in relaxation. What could be less stressful than lounging in the sand with friends, sipping cold drinks, and dipping your toes in the ocean water?
Well, for many, this dream vacation comes with a nightmare dress code: the swimsuit. Instead of focusing on the sand and the sun, you’re worried about a tidal wave of perceived physical imperfections. Do I Look too fat? Too skinny? Is my butt round enough? Is everyone looking at my scars? Suddenly, you’re drowning in those insecurities instead of splashing in the sea.
Fortunately, there are ways to fight the riptide of negative thoughts. With these five tips, you can shed the cover-up and feel confident with your beach body, regardless of its current shape.
Focus on What Your Body Can Do-Not Just How It Looks
You are so much more than your appearance. Everything you do at the beach, from playing frisbee to bodysurfing to collecting seashells, depends on your body. According to studies conducted by Dr. Jessica Alleva and others, training yourself to focus on your body’s functionality instead of its appearance can improve your body image. Next time you’re at the beach, and you feel your thoughts becoming negative, count all the things your body has done that day. How many high-fives did you give? How many volleys did you return? You might find yourself feeling better.
Wear a Swimsuit That’s Physically Comfortable
Nothing keeps us focused on physical appearance quite like tugging on our dothes all day. In the spirit of focusing on what your body can do, choose a swimsuit that can stay in place throughout your activities. Enjoying the waves is a lot tougher when you’re worried about your top floating off to sea, and you might miss the perfect opportunity to Spike that volleyball if you’re tugging on a wedgie. Being self-conscious about unintentionally revealing swimwear is a distraction you don’t need, so say no to that strapless bandeau (unless you’re sure it’s secure.)
Take Inspiration From Body-Positive Role Models
Nobody understands the pressures of the impossible beach body standards quite like celebrities. Luckily for lis, many have fought back against body-shamers in inspiring ways. Perhaps the best known example is the 2007 incident in which tabloids criticized Tyra Banks’ weight and published unflattering photos of her in a bathing suit. Rather than take the insults quietly, Banks wore the infamous swimsuit on her talk show and on the cover of People magazine to show the world she was proud of her figure. That response may have happened over a decade ago, but celebrities are still out there shaming the shamers. Sarah Hyland, Selena Gomez, Amy Schumer, Lady Gaga: all of these women have bet criticized on social media or by the tabloids for their bodies only to use the abuse to speak out about self-acceptance and healthy body image.
Pick a Bathing Suit That Highlights Your Favorite Features
You can also set yourself up for self-esteem success by starting with a swimsuit that makes you feel good. Like focusing on your body’s functionality, though, you’ll want to think about the features you want to highlight, not hide. For example, if you love your dark complexion, why not show it off with a high-contrast white bikini?
When you’re rocking that body confidence, nobody is going to notice the imperfections that once made you worry.
Surround Yourself with Supportive People
A day at the beach is as much about quality time with friends and family as it is the beach itself. By enjoying that time with positive, supportive people, you’re more likely to focus on the fun you’re having than how you look. Studies published in Social Development and The International Journal of Eating Disorders found that close friends tend to have similar attitudes toward body image and that perceived quality of friendships affects how adolescents feel about their own physical appearance. To spend less time stressing about your body and more time having fun, vacation with dose friends with body-positive attitudes.