The Reality of Summer with a Body Image Issue

For so many people, summer is their favourite season for all the obvious reasons. The warmer, brighter weather automatically puts a smile on your face, the prospect of getting a tan is exciting and your wardrobe is about to get a whole lot less restrictive and  whole lot more colourful but for those of us with a body image problem, summer can feel very different.

For anyone suffering with an eating disorder, Body Dysmorphia or another kind of body image issue, the concept of not being able to hide behind the usual clothes that you use as a comfort blanket due to the weather, having to get more of your body out to handle the heat, is a concept that is seriously scary.

I know this first hand. I love summer for so many reasons; I love what it does for my social life, bringing out a spontaneous side in everyone thanks to the warmer temperatures and lighter nights yet when it comes to getting dressed everyday, it isn’t so exciting.

Anyone with a ‘body hangup’ will probably relate to the fact that summer dressing tests your self-confidence. Clothes are smaller, lighter and generally a bit tighter, you’ve got more skin out and for anyone that isn’t hugely comfortable in their current size and shape, this can be daunting to say the least.

My Story

I’ve suffered with Disordered Eating and a general hate for my body and appearance for a number of years now.

The last year has been mentally tough for me in so many ways but I have also overcome so many of my anxieties associated with food, including my fear of being sick, meaning I was finally able to eat more freely and therefore put some weight on.

I was very very thin this time last year. Probably what you would consider ‘too thin’ or unhealthily thin but for me, I still thought I was fat and I still hated my body. I know for a fact I didn’t feel comfortable dressing for summer last year but I look back now and wish I could go back and tell myself to wear what I wanted and enjoy looking how I did because now I hate my body even more.

I’ve gained weight in the last 12 months to reach a size that is much healthier, my body copes and performs day to day much better and mentally, I am much happier overall but my body confidence has taken a knock with this change in size and shape and it’s hard to accept that I look different to how I once did and dress for that.

I’m not used to my arms being bigger, broader and stronger and it’s the same with my legs. I know have cellulite I never used to have and that is very difficult to get my head around sometimes. I have a much curvier, more womanly figure now, meaning my clothes look and fit different, I suit new styles of clothing I never used to look right in but equally, I don’t look quite right in things that used to be my style and that is a real adaption I’m getting used to.

I feel like I don’t know this new body shape very well yet and I’m still getting used to dressing it which has made summer an anxious time. I’m still not ‘in love’ with the bigger arms and legs and because of that, don’t hugely feel comfortable getting them out. Long sleeve tops and wide leg trousers have become the styles I know look best on me but they don’t really work in summer.

A lot of my old summer clothes from last year simply do not fit anymore. None of my skirts or shorts fit because they’re all size 6 and although I am only an 8/10 now, none of last year’s clothes fit and if I can get them on, they don’t look right which has left me feeling even more insecure and lost about what to wear.

Buying new clothes and exploring new styles can be fun and exciting but when you suffer with body image and body confidence problems, it doesn’t necessarily feel like that.

How to Get Through Summer – And Enjoy It 

I wanted to shine a light on how it feels to go through summer hating your body but I also want to offer a helping hand to anyone that feels like that, so here’s my top tips for getting through summer with body image problems and even enjoy it:

  • Plan Outfits The Night Before – stress when you’re trying to get dressed makes everything feel worse. If you’re trying to quickly find something to wear 10 minutes before you need to go and you feel like nothing looks right, you’re going to feel worked up and more upset by the situation. Plan your outfit the night before, giving you plenty of time to try things on and see what looks best and you feel best in.
  • Moisturise or Fake Tan – I feel 1000 times better once I have a bit of a tan but I’m not a natural tanner, so I like to keep a natural, glossy fake tan up throughout summer. Clothes just seem to look better against a tan, so try and find a daily tanner like a tinted moisturiser that you like and keep on top of that to help you feel a little more confident.
  • Keep On Top of Your Beauty Treatments – whether you go to a salon or you do them yourself, keeping on top of the beauty treatments that make you look perfectly preened is bound to boost your confidence and automatically make you feel more positive about your appearance. Paint your nails, pluck your eyebrows, get your lashes done and just keep on top of those little extras that make all the difference to how you look and feel about your appearance without makeup or clothes.
  • Search For Inspiration – we often get told when we have body confidence issues to avoid social media but used in the right way, platforms like Instagram can provide the perfect space to search for summer style inspiration for your size and shape. Search hashtags such as your dress size or your body shape and have a look at the posts that come up, this will help you get outfit ideas, maybe find new pieces you want to buy or just feel more confident that the way you look is great.

Summer is supposed to be so much fun, so don’t let the way you look and feel about your body ruin that for you.

It’s not necessarily going to be the easiest season but summer can be a huge learning curve and time of progress for those with eating disorders and body problems if you dedicate yourself to feeling better, so why not start now?

My emails and messages are always open if you want to chat, so don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re struggling this summer!

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18, full time Content and Social Strategist, beauty enthusiast.

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