Why the Summer Season is for Every Body

Summer ‘16: three months of uninterrupted sunshine, fresh and totally insta-worthy foods and drinks and tons of outdoor activities just waiting to be partaken in (yes, driving in your car with the windows down counts as an outdoor activity)—what’s not to love? Well for one thing, we know that this sultry season can’t last forever. For another, at this time of year, body shaming abounds. Valley is here to tell you why summer is for every body.

By the time April rolls around on the calendar, so do the headlines “10 Ways to Get the Perfect Summer Body,” or “How a Beach Body Can Be Yours,” usually alongside crazy crash diets or unbelievable before and after workout pictures of girls with uncommonly quick and drastic results. This kind of content does nothing to help women feel good in their own skin, nor does it encourage them to go out and enjoy the summer sun, which, again to confirm, is for everyone.

Though society tends to focus on those they deem “too large,” it is important to remember that body shaming goes both ways. In an article from CNN, Brittany Gibbons, blogger, author and body image advocate says “I see this entire [body-shaming] issue as a women’s movement and not just a plus-size women’s movement…[it’s] astonishing to me how much revulsion and shame women of all sizes can feel towards their bodies.”

Whether someone is planning a hike, hitting the Jersey Shore or gearing up for the largest loop-de-loop rollercoaster at Dorney Park, people spend time outside in the summer to have fun for themselves, not to impress others. From the multitude of different types of bathing suits out there to tank tops and shorts, summer clothing wouldn’t come in such a wide range of sizes and styles if it weren’t something that was meant for everyone to at least try.

In an interview with Mic.com, Virgie Tovar, author, activist and an expert and lecturer on fat discrimination and body image, says “We are told to ‘cover up’ not only as a way to protect ourselves from criticism, but also as a way to take care of others who might see our non-conforming body and become uncomfortable.” To combat this negative way of thinking, Tovar has come up with the hashtag #LoseHateNotWeight to spread summer body-positivity online.

Covering up should a be a decision someone makes on their own accord because they want to, not because they are afraid of what others might think of them. And in the case that someone does decide to cover up, they shouldn’t be attacked for that. There are a bunch of different ways to take part in summer style besides showing skin if that’s not someone’s thing. From fun wide-brim hats, to neon jumpsuits, to dyeing hair to experimenting with bright lipsticks and eye shadows—there is no wrong way to do summer, as long as you do what you want.