Monday, April 25, 2016

Body Image and Summertime

Spring is here and that means summer is right around the corner. Gym ads, magazines, and clothing stores promote getting "beach body ready". The thought of this could be exciting for some; and leave others feeling "less than" thrilled about having more skin exposed. Most everyone has something that is less than desired about his/her own body; whether it be feeling not tall enough; not skinny enough; not buff enough; skin too pale; too many scars, ______ (enter your body insecurity here). 

If you have body image concerns, the idea of putting on a bathing suit can be overwhelming and bring up a lot of feelings. Being invited to a pool party or going to the beach can be anxiety provoking. Additionally, shopping for a swim suit or outfit to wear in the hot weather can feel dreadful. 

Regardless of your body size and shape you deserve to be able to feel comfortable on the beach and/or in the pool. So, here are a few tips and thoughts to consider when shopping for warm weather attire.

- Try to check the emotions at the dressing room door: keep focused on finding what fits comfortably and feels like it could work. Give yourself permission to try different sizes though don't get hung up on the number on the tag. The idea is to get what you need without moving into that easy to go to place of feeling bad or worse about yourself and your body. One way to leave your emotions at the door, is to first acknowledge whatever feelings you are having, and possibly even try to identify where these automatic feelings and thoughts come from. If you allow the feelings to be heard and acknowledged, they may be more willing to take a little break while you go shopping, and let you try on some clothing that might fit really well and feel really comfortable!

- Combat the negative self talk with thinking back to a place and time when you felt really strong and good (examples: recent work accomplishment, facing a specific fear, having a difficult conversation)  Really think about how you felt, how your posture was, what sensations did you notice on your body, and any particular sounds or smells associated with that time. Try to use your senses to embody how you felt when you felt strong and know you can conjure up that feeling, any time you need it.

-Find an accessory that you are excited about to pair with your swim wear, whether a fun necklace, cool baseball hat, funny t-shirt, or new flip-flops.

The bottom line is to allow yourself be able to enjoy being in the summer moments as much as possible despite how you might feel about your body. You can practice being more present and enjoy the moment when you are thinking and worrying less about how your bathing suit fits. If you find it difficult to move past some of these ideas and are struggling with body image and want to see if meeting with a professional therapist could be helpful, contact us at Gaithersburg Counseling Center at or 240-274-5680. Or you can visit our website at