As summer hots up many of us will experience that familiar dread that we’re not ready to bear all in swimwear. Here Lauren Windle explains why it’s time to take a stand against the ‘beach body ready’ narrative.
My weight fluctuates between “I really like myself at the moment” and “I feel sad when I look in the mirror”. The actual pounds and stone aren’t relevant, it’s all about my perception. And as things stand, I perceive myself to be carrying more weight than I would like. Naturally, to my mind, this precludes me from enjoying the summer.
No one will want to chat to, play volleyball with or sunbathe next to chubby-me because I didn’t get myself in gear in February to secure my “beach body” in time for June. I imagine that the second I sit by a pool or lay my towel the beach, men, women and children will turn around and survey my body with the same intensity as the cover writer for Heat magazine circa 2005. Mental notes of my cellulite, bingo wings and podgy bits will all be made against my name and my value will be brutally affected by the results of this assessment.
Well… at least that how it plays out in my head.
Here are a few facts to put this into context; I’m not fat. I am marginally heavier that I usually am, but we really are talking an unnoticeable margin. I’ve also just booked in my first summer holiday in two years to a lovely spot in France, where there is a big pool and we’re a short drive to a beach. I’m going with a mixed group of Christians and I haven’t stopped thinking about my swimwear.
Mental notes of my cellulite, bingo wings and podgy bits will all be made against my name and my value will be brutally affected by the results of this assessment.
I was speaking to a friend about this dilemma who challenged me and said: “Do you ever look at someone on the beach who doesn’t have a ‘magazine cover body’ and judge them? Do you think they’re hideous and disgusting and should have stayed at home?” You’ll be pleased to hear my answer was no. It’s never occurred to me to feel repelled by anyone’s “imperfect” body other than my own.
Why are we so mean to ourselves? If I had a friend who spoke to me the way I speak to myself, I would ditch her immediately. But for some reason I’m happy to continually reinforce the idea that I don’t look good enough. That I am not good enough. It’s something many women (and men) struggle with. And it’s time we took a stand.
If I had a friend who spoke to me the way I speak to myself, I would ditch her immediately.
The enemy wants you to dread your incredible family trip or your summer holiday with friends. But instead you should be basking in the sun-kissed opportunity for relaxation, adventure and quality time. Don’t let insecurity and shame come between you and the fullness of life that God has for you this summer. I’m telling myself this too.
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. God didn’t make a mistake. When you head to the pool and take off your kaftan in the sun, know that the radiance and confidence that can only come from God will shine out from you. And believe me, that’s what people will notice and nothing else.