Fashion

How to cope with body anxiety during the heatwave


Unpopular opinion, but a lot of us don’t actually love summer. Me included – I used to curse the first signs of hot weather. Because while people around me seemed to be rejoicing in the sunny days and all the fun it brings with it – BBQs, picnics in the park, lazy afternoons in beer gardens and trips to the seaside – I was wracked with anxiety about my body.

Hot weather is one of the top triggers for body anxiety: it means having to swap our usual wardrobe (which for those of us with bad body image generally revolves around covering up) for more revealing summer attire like shorts, swimwear and strappy tops. This can make us feel self-conscious and force us to confront our bodies – and that can be really painful.

Now that we’re in the midst of a heatwave here in the UK, body anxiety seems to have increased significantly – understandably. It’s almost impossible to hide your body in this nearly 40 degree heat. If you’re struggling, I understand. I know exactly how it feels, and you’re not alone. But there are things we can do to help manage the anxiety we feel about our bodies in summer, and I’ve put my top tips together:

Get rid of the weight of other people’s opinions.

Please remember that nobody cares about how your body looks like you do – I used to be obsessed with thinking that others around me were gossiping about my body or judging it. It feels very real when your body anxiety is high, but it’s so important to know that people are generally far too consumed by their own insecurities and anxieties and too wrapped up in their own lives to spend their time concerned with your body. And if they do, you need to know that’s on them and not you – that’s entirely their own projection and something they need to work through themselves.

Stop body checking

You might do this without even knowing what body checking is, so let me explain. Body checking is, according to Heathline.com, “the habit of seeking information about your body’s weight, shape, size or appearance” – essentially, it involves obsessive thoughts and behaviours around your body. So things like frequent weighing, pinching your fat, purposefully trying on clothes that you know are too tight, and fixating on certain body parts in mirrors . These are all ways that we repeatedly look for evidence that our bodies are indeed ‘ugly’ or ‘disgusting’ and they only serve to amplify body anxiety.

Get rid of any ‘fat’ talk

Fat is not a feeling; it’s a neutral adjective to describe a body. When we attach negative connotations to the word, it then becomes harmful not just for you, but for everyone who is fat and belongs to the fat community. Your plus-size friends really don’t need to hear you say “eurgh, I feel so fat.” Despite what we’ve been taught, it is not a bad thing to be fat.

Stop the comparison

Yes, the person you’re comparing yourself to has a different body to you, but literally everyone in the world does! And that diversity is where real beauty lies – we live in a warped world where it’s good to aspire to one very specific standard of beauty, but why do we all want to look like clones of each other when our diversity is so cool? Try to celebrate the uniqueness of every body, including your own.

Practice self-compassion and challenge negative self-talk

Our inner critic can often be very loud and the way we talk to ourselves can be so toxic and so damaging – it can border on verbal abuse. Try to catch yourself doing this and ask yourself if you would say the same thing to someone else. If the answer’s no (which hopefully it is!), then why do you deserve it?! You don’t. Be kind to yourself and show your body respect and love – you deserve nothing less.

Lastly, please remember that body image lies with the mind, not the body. 

The problem isn’t your body, it’s how you feel about your body. And I am proof of this – I am now at one of the biggest weights I’ve ever been and yet hands down the happiest I’ve ever been. I firmly believed that changing my body was the key to feeling good in my own skin, but no matter how much weight I lost or how many ‘problem areas’ I worked on, I never felt any more comfortable. It was only when I started to address the problems with my mindset around my body that I started to see progress.

So. Get that fan on, keep as cool as you can, wear the clothes you feel most comfortable in, and remember that your body is good enough exactly as it is.



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