Body image distorts summer enjoyment

How we view ourselves can play a big role in the things we enjoy, but struggling with body image shouldn’t be a lonely battle.


Hayley Breines

Although the weather is getting nicer, a negative body image can hold us back from enjoying the summertime.

Hayley Breines, A&E & News Editor

An epidemic existing in the mind is raging throughout high school, eating away at its host every day. This epidemic doesn’t have symptoms of coughing or fevers, but symptoms of seeing yourself in an entirely distorted way. Imagine yourself at a time where you’ve looked in the mirror and only saw the things you hate. Recall the frustration you felt that despite trying everything, you cannot look the way you want. This is when the epidemic strikes. Body dysmorphia, at every varying degree, is a condition many students- both male and female-struggle with on a daily basis. There is no one look that experiences this ailment; it can infiltrate into all different kinds of people and all different kinds of bodies. Especially going into the summer, the nagging persistence of body dysmorphic thoughts turns into an overcoming roar when the thought of wearing swimsuits, shorts and tank tops imparts itself into the distorted view our minds can create. So many people struggle with this, and many times they go about it alone. However, this is not an isolated problem; it is widespread and attacks without reason. There is hope, and there are people who are affected by this issue much closer than you think.

The way we view ourselves is completely unique to every person. Self-esteem and body confidence can be two separate things, but much too often they are lumped together as interchangeable terms. One can exist as a confident and assured person, while still struggling with negative body image seemingly completely out of their control. One of the most important things to remember when we see ourselves in the distorted way body dysmorphia convinces us we look like is that those qualities that give us our personalities will always over-shine physical appearance. 

“My suggestion for students to focus more internally is to think about who you want to be; not what you want to be and what you want to look like, but who do you want to be,” yoga teacher Abbey Erlenbaugh said. 

Although it sounds cynical, one of the best pieces of advice for combating the overwhelming negative thoughts is to remember that your physical appearance is the least  interesting part of your whole being. Focusing on happiness and fulfillment versus attaining a specific appearance can be a difficult and daunting task, but acknowledging that these thoughts don’t come from a place of reality can quiet the times that they take over. 

Additionally, setting up the right support system is crucial to developing a healthy self-image. 

“Surrounding yourself with people who can assist you in being who you want to be in order to have good self esteem… also requires the right support system,” Erlenbaugh said. Having more people around you who support and appreciate you as a person reminds you of the positive aspects of yourself that are sometimes overlooked when we have a warped body image. 

Sometimes, our body image causes us to develop unhealthy habits that can become challenging to break and can morph into more serious issues. The road to self-love takes very slow baby steps, however trivial they may seem. And even after we feel like we’re in a better place, there are days where all we want to do is hide away from the world and cover every inch of ourselves. These are the days where those baby steps seem like leaps and bounds, but need to be taken. 

“It can be exercise, it can be staying hydrated, it can be eating healthy and finding ways to physically take care of your body can also just get you in a better mindset of loving who you are. I know I say this a lot in class, but you only get one body, and you only get one chance to treat it well,” Erlenbaugh said. 

Little goals can completely shift the way we look at ourselves; feeling like our body is nourished and knowing that it moved and served us that day can be that subtle push into a self-loving direction. 

The same advice doesn’t apply to everyone, which can make overcoming body dysmorphia even more daunting. But realizing that you’re not the only one working through these thoughts can be a major comfort. Going into summer, try to look at yourself not in the way your brain wants you to look at yourself, but in the way you want to feel about yourself.