Summer is hands down the best for a lot of reasons: warm weather, fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, more time outside, cookouts, sundresses, rooftop parties, the pool, the beach….
Summer is also the worst: the pool, the beach, taking off that coverup, wearing a swimsuit, ohmigod I should have hit the gym more this spring, umm let’s pretend that cellulite isn’t there, ugh chub rub whyyy, if keto won’t make me drop 10 pounds faster than Migos can drop a new track, I won’t be able to wear this bikini on vacation next month….
Mix those toxic thoughts with spending your lunch break scrolling through Instagram a.k.a. a steady stream of celebrities, acquaintances, etc. showing off their thin, “perfect” figures that earned them a couple hundred likes. Suddenly, you look down at your half-eaten sandwich and wonder if you should have bought a salad instead.
I’ll bet you already forgot about the aforementioned perks of this beautiful season. Isn’t that crazy? We—myself 1000% included— have lost touch with what it’s like to truly enjoy that trip to the pool, beach, park or any other environment that might involve wearing a bathing suit. What’s even crazier? Yesterday’s trip to the beach saved me from hitting one of the lowest lows for my body image.
Because I have Fridays off in the summer (gotta love working at St. John’s University), I took advantage of the gorgeous weather and went to Rockaway Beach. As I mentioned in another post, I feel most at peace when I’m near any body of water, and given the recent rough patch in my life, a solo trip to the shore was exactly what I needed!
After staking out a spot, I hesitantly removed my shirt and shorts, only to remind myself that doing such (at the beach LOL) is literally the most normal thing ever! I also took a good five minutes to cover my body in sunblock, and I probably looked hella awkward trying to get those hard-to-reach spots, but again—something SUPER normal to do! What wasn’t normal though was the array of body types on the beach. And I loved it.
Maybe it’s because New York City is a place where normalcy is drowned out by diversity, but all I know is I felt completely comfortable. I was neither the thinnest person there, nor the heaviest. Beyond body type, diversity shone in other aspects: to my right was a lesbian couple; behind me, a group of edgy, tattooed pals; at left, a young woman completely topless; farther down toward the water, some grandparents chatted with a few teen boys walking by. It was so much fun to people watch that I never even pulled out the magazines I brought with me!
I adopted the mentality that I would never see these people again, so I had no reason to feel self-conscious about my body. I reminded myself of this every time I walked in and out of the waves, jiggling thighs and all. I realize putting yourself in this frame of mind is way easier said than done, especially if you’re around friends or people you’re familiar with (or even a crush!) and in a smaller environment, such as a pool. However, I can nearly guarantee that whatever snarky comments you think these people would make behind your back, they won’t. And if they do? AH-DI-OS!! Find a group who will happily dig into the chips and salsa with you (because duh, that’s what they’re out for).
Last but not least, I ended my day at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club and Tacoway Beach, which are right next door to each other. Being indecisive as always, I ordered one of their award-winning fish tacos (made with haddock that day) and one of the black bean, cheese and sweet plantain tacos (well worth the extra buck). Of course I had to wash it down with a frozen lime margarita, so I brought my food to the bar, took a seat and enjoyed every bite and sip. I really took my time soaking in the surf culture around me, including talking to the surfer bartender. It felt like I was in the Carolinas!
All in all, it was such a perfect day that there was zero room for guilt. I left the beach feeling mentally stronger, and I hope I can pass on some of that strength to anyone reading this who struggles with body image, especially in the summer. If you have any other tips for boosting body confidence, tell me about them in the comments!
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