Since I was a kid, I've always looked forward to summer. It meant no homework, beach days, a later bedtime, and having more time to hang out with my friends. But with those things came a lot of insecurities about my body. I've always been the "bigger friend," and summer clothes weren't my thing. When I was younger, I dreaded shopping with someone who didn't have a similar body type because of the lack of clothes available in my size. I was - and still am - constantly comparing how I look in a bathing suit to those around me. I'm self-conscious about my upper arms when wearing tops with thin straps, and most of my crop tops hang in the back of my closet with their tags still on.
To make matters worse, there's always been this expectation that, once spring arrived, we'd hit the gym, shed any winter weight, and emerge with our "summer bodies" just in time for swimsuit season. It's an unhealthy and unrealistic ideal, but this year, I hope we'll see a cultural shift.
This winter brought a pandemic that none of us could have prepared for - and one we're still fighting. Anything considered nonessential was closed to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including gyms and fitness studios. And while outdoor recreation like bike paths and hiking trails remained open in many parts of the country, most people chose to stay close to home, taking this time to instead take up a new hobby or hone their baking skills.
The past few months have caused us to reevaluate what's really important - namely, our loved ones and our health - and I hope this new mindset sticks.
It's only natural that some people would lose muscle or gain weight during this time, but with unemployment skyrocketing, some facing health complications from COVID-19, and everyone trying their best to navigate this uncertainty, the number on the scale should be the least of our concerns. The past few months have caused us to reevaluate what's really important - namely, our loved ones and our health - and I hope this new mindset sticks.
As a young woman nearing my mid-20s, I've become more confident in my own skin. That doesn't mean I still don't have meltdowns in a dressing room or pick apart how I look in pictures. But I do know we shouldn't care what someone looks like in a bikini or shorts, this year or any year. Instead of criticizing ourselves or others, we should celebrate the bodies we've been given, because they're beautiful at any size.