The anti-bikini body guide

Mind

In the run up to summer, it’s too easy to give into the pressures of trying new diets in search of the perfect ‘bikini body’. We call bullshit to this and say that you CAN enjoy the beach, the summer, and your body now….

How to get a bikini beach body: wear a bikini and go to the beach. All bodies are bikini body ready and everyone deserves to feel comfortable in their body on the beach, without shame or feeling like they have to first shrink, tone, or shred any part of themselves.

But for many people this might be easier said than done. Thousands of people still feel they can’t possibly wear a swimsuit or a bikini or even go out and enjoy the sunshine for fear they will be judged. Many of you might only wear a bikini in public if covered by a kaftan or might be currently obsessing over a diet/exercise regime in the hope you’ll feel more confident once summer arrives.

One of the first influencers to kickstart the body positive movement in the UK is Becky Young, who started online community and event collective Anti Diet Riot Club in 2017. She shares her tips for ditching the doomed-to-fail diets and hitting the beach with confidence without spending hours slaving away in the gym…

Photo: Becky Young

Stop following social media accounts that make you feel bad about your body

It’s important to be actively aware of how social media posts make you feel and what insecurities they might trigger in you. Yes, we all know that Instagram just shows the ‘highlight’ real of someone’s life – but our subconscious is still absorbing all of the imagery we’re seeing and it can result in our perceiving our own bodies as abnormal in comparison to the well highlighted, conveniently posed, often digitally manipulated photos that many celebrities and beauty/fitness influencers post online. Even people you know can trigger feelings of insecurity and comparison about bodies, do not be afraid to unfollow them temporarily if you feel this will help you think less negatively about your own.

Follow more diverse accounts online

The most important way to combat the narrow beauty standards that leave us feeling like our bodies are too wobbly/big/protruding/oddly shaped/<insert other bizarre insecurity here> is to look at more diverse types of beauty. Go and follow people whose bodies look like yours with all its lumps and bumps and scars and stretch marks. Follow people who have fat/disabled/trans/disfigured bodies and look at them shine! There are so many different types of bodies and beauties out there: you have the power to create your own personal magazine in the palm of your hands rather than the glossy rags we used to buy as teenagers.

Here are some accounts we love and suggest you follow immediately to not only see bodies of ranging shapes live unapologetically but also because they a knowledgeable and fierce advocates for body justice: @gracefvictory, @the_feeding_of_the_fox, @spreadingunicornlove, @stylemesunday, @shooglet, @glitterandlazers, @nerdabouttown, @bodyposipanda and @mynameisjessamyn.

Photo: @gracefvictory


Enjoy your what your body can do by finding something that lets you get ‘in flow’

I have always known that activities or movement that made me ‘get out of my head’ and ‘in the zone’ were ones that were positive for my mental wellbeing. While hula hooping, reading a good novel, dancing ecstatically, and foam rolling I was never self-conscious or aware of my body looked but was just fully in the moment and loving every single minute of it.

So this is actually called being in a “state of flow”, which I recently learned from Laura Thomas’s Just Eat It, and is defined by “a feeling of energised focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity”. Flow states can foster positive body image by allowing us to appreciate what our body can do and its connection with the mind. Who gives a f*** what we look like on the beach when we’re happy, fulfilled, energised and absorbed in something we love doing, right?

Don’t go on a diet because in the long term it won’t work

If you’re thinking that this time the 10 pounds you’ve been trying to lose for the last five years will finally go if you just try hard enough, you’re probably wrong. Over 85% of diets fail (many studies even say between 95-97%), and beyond that studies show that 35% of people who diet will develop disordered eating patterns and behaviours, with 25% of people who diet going on to develop full-blown eating disorders.

If you want to slow down your metabolism, raise your stress and cortisol levels, mess up your body’s ability to recognise hunger and fullness and develop a confused relationship to food, then dieting is a surefire way to get there. Perhaps you’ll lose weight in the short term, but in the long term you will most likely regain that weight and more. And what will your mental wellbeing be like throughout this?

Remember who is profiting from you feeling bad about your body

Whether you spend money on a new diet plan, creams to try and ‘fix’ your skin insecurities or ‘reverse’ the aging process (not possible folks!), or the latest trendy powdered meal replacements and shapewear to try and cover up your beautiful belly, there are rich people in boardrooms who are raking in big bucks as a result.

These people rely on us coming back year upon year to try the next latest fad. They make their millions of pounds in profit because we buy into a new ‘fix’ each year. They know that we’ll never have what we think is a perfect body and so will always want more ways to make it different. They’re laughing at us. Don’t let them fool you.

The Anti Diet Riot Club are currently attempting to raise £15,700 through a Crowfunder campaign to build a body positive bus to visit towns, schools and festivals to educate young people on diet culture and how to combat body shaming. Support the cause here

By Lucy

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