Proud2Bme | Proud2Bme Poll: 75% of Readers Feel Pressured to Alter Their Appearance in the Summer

  • Body Image
  • Body Positivity

Proud2Bme Poll: 75% of Readers Feel Pressured to Alter Their Appearance in the Summer

By Kaitlin Irwin--We received 115 responses for Proud2Bme’s July poll: “Do you feel pressured to change your appearance in the summer?” 75% of the respondents said “Yes,” while 17% answered “Somewhat.” Why do people feel such a strong need to alter or “improve” their appearance during the summer?

Media images have a lot to do with it, as well as the “fat talk” and body shaming that people engage in (sometimes without even knowing it). There is still plenty of summertime left, so let’s think about some ways to challenge the idea that we need to change our appearance in order to enjoy the season.

First of all, we do not have to change our appearance for anyone or anything. Not in the summer or any other time of year, and certainly not for someone else. Sure, there are times when we want to look our best, but that should be because we want to dress up, not because we feel that we need to. We are living in a world that judges people based on appearance, and that’s not the best, but directing our attention and our words to characteristics other than appearance can help. Instead of admiring someone and saying “she’s so pretty; I wish I looked like her,” we can say “she has a great attitude and I admire that” or “she’s really good at playing guitar!”

Reminding ourselves and those around us that our bodies and appearances don’t determine our skills and hobbies may help us get rid of the pressure to “look better” or alter our looks. Because we look just fine, darn it.

Secondly, we need to be careful of the images we are confronted with every day. There are countless advertisements and billboards promoting the “bikini body,” comparing that physique to other bodies that don't match this idealized form. Well, guess what? It’s okay if we don’t look like runway models or the airbrushed women in those ads. In fact, it’s a very awesome thing that we don’t!

Think about it: when we go to a garden, we want to see a variety of flowers, right? Seeing the same potted plant on the garden grounds is boring! Same thing with animals; who doesn't love seeing the juxtaposition of little Chihuahua dogs paired up with Great Dane playmates? These dogs aren’t thinking that they don’t measure up to each other. Instead, they are just being themselves! It’s so simple, so why is it so hard for us to do?

Probably because we are indoctrinated with images of supposed perfection and the attitude that skinny is better. This brainwashing is happening earlier and earlier for young girls and boys, but there are people who are fighting it, including the Proud community! We all have the power to shift body-shaming conversations to more positive topics. We need to remember that people are more than their bodies. They are hopes and dreams, hobbies and interests, love, personality and quirks. A helpful technique that we can all use is thought-challenging. We may think that we need to lose ‘x’ number of pounds or that we just need to ‘tone up a bit’ before we hit the beach or wear those cute shorts. In reality, we are fine just the way we are! So it’s okay to have those thoughts, but we ought to try to challenge them and test their validity. For example:

Thought: I just need to drop a few pounds before my beach trip.

Reality: Losing weight has nothing to do with my ability to get together with friends and family and enjoy a day of fun in the sun. I can swim, laugh, eat, etc. as I am right now.

Our weight and appearance has nothing to do with who we are as people. Skinny individuals aren’t somehow better than everyone else. There isn’t a threshold of happiness and success that we surpass when we get to a certain weight. There’s no gold medal or certificate of achievement that we get when we weigh a certain amount. When we walk onto the sandy beach, we have just as much of a right to be there as anyone else. Instead of focusing on changing our appearance, let’s change our mindset! 

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About Us

Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

This site was developed in partnership with Riverduinen and made possible by generous contributions from JPMorgan Chase, Globant, the University of Delaware, and The Hilda & Preston Davis Foundation.

Proud2Bme was first launched in the Netherlands by Riverduinen, a mental health organization that has licensed the concept to the National Eating Disorders Association. Unless otherwise noted, all original content on this site is copyright The National Eating Disorders Association. The Proud2Bme brand, logos, and trademarks are property of Rivierduinen.