Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

Latest issue

Every body is a summer body

H. Beck, OMN Illustrator

Summer is here, and everyone is excited about pool parties until they open Instagram.

While influences flaunt what they call their hard-earned “summer bodies,” you wonder to yourself, “why don’t I look like that?”

Unfortunately for many, it feels like summer is for the Barbie look-alikes who feel comfortable showing some skin in the heat. The ones who “failed” to reach their “body goals” are left feeling undeserving of the nice weather. 

So what exactly is a “summer body,” and what have people been made to believe it is? 

When students were asked, many said that they’ve been told it is someone fit, skinny with a flat stomach and a perfect shape. Men exclaimed that it is someone toned with abs and big arms. 

“Whatever the media decides is unattainable and hot for the month,” Carly Stuhr, student, said. 

It feels as though the media uses body trends as if they’re clothes you can try on. 

No one ever wins because as soon as you achieve one standard, a new one comes along. The term “summer body” has been used in the media time and time again as if there is only a select body type that is allowed to flaunt itself in revealing clothing. Because of this, people have been brainwashed into thinking they should be careful with how much skin they show because their body isn’t acceptable. 

“Throughout life, I’ve been told I don’t have a summer body,” Kae Ranck, student, said. “My mom would always make sure I bought more ‘modest’ swimsuits and cover-ups, and in the media, it was always shown that thin-but-toned people had summer bodies and that you needed to lose weight for the summer.” 

It is heartbreaking to hear, but it is the truth for many.

When summer approaches, the response may be excitement, but for many, it is accompanied by an underlying feeling of stress. People are suddenly on strict diets and overwork their bodies tirelessly at the gym. 

In my survey, the majority of students admitted to trying to achieve the impossible standards.

“I had an eating disorder, and I was obsessed with being beautiful, ” Stuhr said. “I was so insecure with who I was, and I saw a warped projection of beauty so much that I believed that’s what made me valuable, so I contorted myself to mimic that image.” 

“My whole life I struggled to gain weight and muscle mass due to medical conditions and bad genetics,” an anonymous student said. “My family and friends would always tell me to eat more and comment on my weight starting from age 8 when I would wear shorter clothes for the summer.”

While some like Jordan Cagle may argue that there’s nothing wrong with promoting a fit body, I’d like to rebut that there’s more to it than that. 

Cagle explained that “two-thirds of our country is overweight, and having a time of the year dedicated to losing some weight can help make people happier with their bodies and health.”

While I agree with that statement, it’s important to note that body trends do not promote health — they promote an image. 

There is indeed an obesity problem, but it is not to be combated with the destruction of people’s mental health and body image. Not everyone healthy looks like the Kardashians, and many ambassadors of the “summer body” are actually fighting to maintain it with eating disorders, personal trainers and plastic surgery. If the “summer body trend” promoted health, then it wouldn’t be centered around shaming people that don’t fit into their cookie-cutter aesthetic.

There are countless stories of people getting shamed at the gym because they are out of shape. Why should someone ever be getting shamed when they are actively trying to do something to improve their health? I’ve even seen overweight people who are more physically active and able in the gym than someone with a “desired” body, and it’s still the same story. 

It is evident that maybe society’s opinions on bodies need to be revamped. 

This is not to say that there is anything wrong with trying to look your best. It’s fair to be honest about what someone finds more attractive in themselves, but the attitude created by society that says it isn’t acceptable to exist in any way less than their standards is absurd. 

If you are fat, you are told to stop eating. Once you stop eating, you develop an eating disorder, and all of a sudden you are too skinny and should put meat on your bones. The “correct” body image is constantly being shoved down people’s throats and ingrained in children’s subconscious minds with the media they consume. That may be fine, but in addition to that, any other body type is demonized or ignored. It shouldn’t be the norm to have children as young as 8 be worried about what their body looks like. 

I’d like to point out that the behaviors learned from body shamers aren’t the truth but what they’ve been brainwashed to think. If the media started being honest about what is done to curate a perfect image and started being more inclusive, we’d slowly start to see change. Yes, they’ve somewhat begun, but I’d say so far it has only been a sorry effort to shut us up. 

“I get made fun of because of my weight all the time,” an anonymous student said. “During the summer on the beach or at the river I never wear swimsuits because I get gross looks. Because people don’t think my body should be in a swimming suit.” 

As someone who has been in positions where I was body shamed, I promise that anyone that’s unhealthy is well aware of it and usually trying to change it. Nobody needs to be made to feel guilty for the way their body looks because it is absolutely nobody’s business. The idea that there is a summer body and not just bodies in the summer should be eradicated because it doesn’t help someone become healthy. Instead, it feeds into a never-ending void of insecurities that lead to an array of mental disorders.

As students and the next generation of leaders for this world, we have to start being more accepting of each other. We cannot tolerate any body shaming or insinuation of it. It’s about time we reprogram society’s thoughts on bodies. For those of us who have successfully combated society’s judgments and are comfortable in our skin, please be the ones to continue to show the world that you are more than acceptable and support those who need it. 

The truth is, every body is a summer body. 

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