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3 Body Image Lessons I Learned At The Beach Last Week

I was in San Diego over the 4th of July for a long weekend getaway and spent lots of time on the beach (ahhhh!)

Being in a bathing suit is always a good test for me and helps me see where I am in my journey… Am I triggered by other women’s bodies? Do I feel self-conscious? Am I comparing myself to someone else? It shows me where my triggers are, where I still have work to do on self-acceptance, and how comfortable I feel in my skin.

So here are my reflections from the beach I wanted to share with you 🙂

body image lessons

  1. Remember that there are ALL different body sizes and shapes out in the world.

This seems obvious, right?

But I think we forget it when we’re surrounded by images of a certain body type: one that’s fit, toned, and slender. Scroll through any magazine, look at any ad, or flip through a catalog and the models are all slender and thin.

Being on the beach reminded me that there are literally thousands of different body types: thin, fat, pear-shaped, big thighs, small legs, huge boobs, flat-chested, athletic, average, and everything in between.

It was refreshing to see all sized women in bathing suits being on the beach and reminded me that we are all unique. There is no “right” size. We all have different genetic makeups and our body size’s reflect that!

Can you accept your body for it’s own size? Can you let go of trying to force yourself to look like a shape your body wasn’t intended for?

Body acceptance begins when you realize you’re enough no matter what your size. It doesn’t mean you can’t change…it just means remembering that with or without extra weight, you are still you 🙂

  1. Let your acceptance come from you (and not based on other people’s sizes)

Comparing yourself to other women is always a lose-lose situation. You will NEVER feel good. I used to feel good about myself when I was the smallest person in the room  (which didn’t happen very often, since my weight fluctuated to 165 and back down over the years). I felt “holier than thou” and “good” because I was smaller.

And if I was the heaviest, I’d feel awful about myself, think everyone was staring at me and find myself wondering who was judging me for my weight gain & what they thought about how heavy I had gotten.

Here’s the thing: if your self-acceptance is based on who you’re “better” or “worse” than, you will always be in jeopardy of losing that feeling. We want to find our acceptance inside of ourselves, regardless of who we are with and what sizes surround us.

  1. You will never know what someone is dealing with.

I used to visit the beach and be insanely jealous of the women who looked amazing in a bathing suit. I would think “if I could just look like her, I’d be so much more confident” or “well, if I looked at her, of course I would be happy and feel free in my skin”…

But over the years (and after working with so many women who you would never guess were struggling with food!), I’ve realized that everyone has something they are battling inside. Whether that’s food/body issues, a rocky relationship, a challenging kid, a career they despise, a job that’s torture, or some other battle they’re fighting, each of us has our “thing”.

When we begin to criticize or judge someone’s body, we discount who they are as a person. We cut them down to just a body and nothing more.

You may never guess that the girl you see rockin’ a toned body who looks tan and fabulous thinks she’s hideously fat and has body dysmorphia.  Or that the mom you’re secretly envious of is battling a marriage that’s heading towards divorce.

Can you be open to seeing people as more than their bodies?

When I was in Overeaters Anonymous years ago, I would try this practice: can I look at another person and not immediately judge them for their size? Could I notice their pretty eyes, beautiful outfit, fabulous hair, brilliant smile or confident handshake? It was incredible practice because it helped me see “less” of sizes and more of the whole person 🙂

It’s your turn now…

I’d love to hear from you. Have you been at the beach or pool this summer? (And if it’s winter in your part of the world, you can think back to last summer 🙂 ) What have you learned or noticed about body image that you can share with us? Comment below 🙂 

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