Could achieving your ‘beach body’ make you less confident?

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It’s that time of year again. It’s time to strip down and whip out the swim wear. Whether you’re off to Greece to laze on a sandy beach or you plan to doze on a garden deck chair you will probably be planning to get your tan on and shed the layers. We all want to look our best, we want to lose those chocolate gained revision pounds and show the world our washboard abs. It’s time to get beach body ready.

Hundreds of websites and magazines promote the ‘beach body’. The majority of these advise that weight loss is a necessity for going on holiday along with dieting, a fake tan and a tonne more exercise. The Redbook Mag has developed a “7 days to total beach body confidence” guide. This gives seven steps to ensure we will adapt our bodies to “look amazing” on holiday. Of course they state you must “amp up your work out” to make sure your new bikini is two sizes smaller. They also advise developing a tan stating “everyone looks thinner with a bit of extra colour” to make sure those swimming trunks don’t look too tight.

Everyone feels they are expected to lose weight for summer. Whether to fit into last year’s swim suit, grab the attention of a few beach babes or just to feel more confident. It seems that society today encourages everyone to be body confident but in order to do that you must drop a few pounds and conform.

The idea of the ‘beach body’ merely lowers confidence, there will always be someone thinner than you, always be someone more tanned or with an extra set of abs on show. The ‘beach body’ becomes an unachievable goal. However, the conformity is decreasing; people have started to fight back against the confidence defying stereotype.

In 2012 internet blogger Gabi Fresh declared that all women, no matter what size, should get to wear the bikini of their choice without being judged. In 2013 she went on to start the “fatkini” movement, this is any bikini worn or created in a size 10-24, hoping to empower women to reject the ‘beach body’ stereotype and embrace their own shapes. The hashtag #fatkini then spread in 2014 with images of plus size women circling the internet, showing that bigger can be beautiful and their refusal to conform. This was closely followed by #losehatenotweight demanding bodies be accepted in all sizes.

‘Beach body’ controversy has already risen this year in April when Protein World displayed posters on the London underground stating “Are You Beach Body Ready?” with a thin athletic woman posing in a tiny bikini. Huge outrage surrounded these posters not only by women who felt they were being objectified but because the population felt the company were increasing their sales by lowering peoples self esteem. Who should get to say that a certain body type decided if we are “beach ready” or not?

Since April there have been numerous protests in Hyde Park, and brands such as Simply Be have created counter advertisements stating “Every Body is Beach Body Ready”. Men and women have started to reject the notion of the perfect body, wanting to feel confident in their own skin and refusing to change to please industries and other people.

It appears that perfecting a ‘beach body’ is still the expectation, but it come with a side of controversy. Men and women are declining the image of the perfect body wanting instead to be accepted for their bumps and curves. Confidence is only lowered when you question your body image and with such high expectations, if you try to alter yourself, you may never be happy with the result. So, how do you achieve that ‘beach body’? Stick on the Speedos and plonk your body on the beach. Easy.

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