The “Bikini Syndrome” revives body image issues.
Summer is right around the corner, yay! Well, for some of us.
Growing up, I was always a girl that loved the summer season. I come from a small town on the beach where summer is sacred and the ultimate feeling was having my toes dipped in the water enjoying whatever time I had left before winter came.
As I recall, summer used to be a time where we enjoyed bonding, having some fun in the sun, getting that perfect tan, chit-chatting with friends while sipping on a cold drink, and maybe even playing a little game of racquetball!
Unfortunately, times have changed, and social media kicked in!
As the season heats up every year, a wave of social pressure comes along with it. The pressure to be in perfect shape increases and forces women, including myself, to feel ashamed of how they look. This has been going on for a while now, but has recently boomed and created a new phenomenon in our societies.
The bikini syndrome is now upon us!
When hitting the beach nowadays, it’s hard not to be self-conscious about our bodies, especially when everyday, we’re bombarded with unrealistic standards of bodies we see on the cover of magazines, and invading our Instagram newsfeed.
Summer has now become an opportunity to brag about how good you look in a swimsuit, and making others feel bad if they don’t look as fit.
Girls, and guys, are both living up with the pressure of looking like the photoshopped images of the “so-called” Instagram influencers and exercise gurus that brainwash them into thinking that these are the ultimate beauty standards and ideal body shapes.
In a recent study, results showed that teens who are constantly exposed to social networking sites and the empty content posted by celebrities, are more likely to produce a negative perception of their bodies, with higher risks of developing eating disorders, and engaging in extreme weight-loss behaviors & unrealistic exercise patterns.
The above shows how strong the influence of media is on the youth, particularly social media, in altering their lifestyle patterns.
Let’s get one thing straight before we proceed; we are not against exercising or watching out for your weight. Some social media pages use this strong influence of media to their advantage, and try to promote the good side of exercise and eating healthy. This is crucial in order to stress on the importance of maintaining a healthy diet pertaining all the necessary nutrients.
Exercising at least 30 minutes a day is crucial to sustain and improve your quality of life, while also preventing the risk of developing several diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
However, when it gets to a point where teenagers are ashamed to leave their homes and put on a swimsuit, or when we also take part in shaming people who fall outside a socially prescribed set of physical ideals, that’s when swimsuit anxiety kicks in.
But what’s it all for? Is all this really worth your peace of mind or the fun you’re missing out on?
If you come to think of it, we all come in different sizes and shapes; our bodies are the physical manifestation of our beautiful personalities, and we should be proud of them. Besides, I bet we’ve all seen enough Photoshop tutorials online for us to draw a conclusion that 90% of what we see is a joke that’s edited by professionals.
So how can we fight this “syndrome” together?
Take the below advice from a fellow girl that has been through the same, because life’s too short to miss out on all the fun summer can bring along!
– Accept the body you have, flaunt your new swimming suit with confidence, and show them what it means to be a strong woman.
– Let confidence be your Photoshop! At least it’s genuine and comes from the inside.
– Give yourself some credit! You’ve come a long way to become who you are, and you deserve some love from YOU.
– Commit to a lifestyle, not a size! Choose healthier alternatives and exercise, it’ll make you feel good. But don’t focus on just losing weight, it’s not the main purpose behind a healthy lifestyle.
– Focus on the summer fun! Nothing’s really worth missing out on a perfect tan ladies!
– Lastly, but most importantly, make sure you re-evaluate your social media – Unfollow anything that doesn’t promote self-love and confidence, this is not the message that needs to be conveyed. Instead, follow motivational pages that show the reality and the true beauty that lies within everyone.
Here are some inspiring Middle eastern influencers who are worth following:
Aline Chirinian (@nouchaline):
A Lebanese blogger actively promoting plus-size fashion, body confidence, and self-love, Aline’s posts are all about positivity! Make sure you click on the below photo to read the full post!
Amal Bedhyefi (@amal.books):
A tunisian Intersectional Feminist and bookstagrammer, Amal promotes the importance of feminism and self-love by sharing quotes from books she reads revolving around these topics, to hopefully touch young women in one way or another. Don’t forget to also click on the photo for more details!
Tasneem Al Sultan (@tasneemalsultan):
A Saudi female photographer covering stories in the Middle East through her personal lens. Tasneem highlights the importance of photographing and portraying complex diverse women in the beauty industry. You’ll find more details upon clicking on the photo.
Such influencers make us proud and hopeful that perhaps social media isn’t all that bad if used right, it also highlights how some women recognize its bad effect and have chosen to fight it with education, or probably some humor like my colleague Tala did a while ago. Check out her blog when you’re done to see how some advertisers are fully aware that our relationships to our bodies is changing, and for the better.
To wrap it up, a small message goes out to you beautiful woman, be true to who you are, love your body as it’s your sanctuary.
Have enough confidence to know that you are truly beautiful regardless of what Instagram or society thinks. Encourage other women instead of bashing them for the way they look, we’re all sisters that need mutual encouragement to keep fighting society’s ideals and its unrealistic standards.
We are seeking empowerment and women leaders to get up and show young girls that trying to be perfect is a waste of time. Choose to be that girl that sets a great example for the younger generations. Capture them before “influencers” do, and show them that beauty is not one thing, it’s diversity, it’s different colors, different races, different shapes, different sizes.
But most importantly, choose to be the dorky girl that’s rocking her swimsuit while jumping around in the sand not caring who is watching.
We need more genuine people in this world, we need more people like you!