Self-Love in the Summer

By: Jenna A

Alas, the season of unmerciful shorts and cropped tops is upon us. And with it descends the inevitable body hate from both within ourselves and from others. There’s only one thing society hates more than Justin Bieber— self love. Often mistaken for conceit, it’s mocked and condemned. Humility— or self-flagellation— is a cultural norm. No, I’m not beautiful, No, my nose is far too big. And God forbid you should be too skinny, or too fat and feel good about yourself. No, the only way to accept a complement is to berate yourself.

And it’s funny– you’re allowed to be overweight as long as you’re doing everything in your power to combat it. As long as you’re eating nothing mangoes and kumquats and flossing your teeth with cherry blossoms and doing ab workouts like you breathe. And if you’re underweight you’re doing squats right and left and downing Muscle Milk like there’s no tomorrow.

The ads and commercials intensify when it’s summer; you gotta take Seventeen’s advice and “dress for your body type”, and be sure there are frills on your bikini bottoms hiding your lack of an ass or a padded bra compensating for what you don’t have or a fucking overcoat if you’re fat (but it’ll have cute little starfish on it, ’cause you know, it’s the beach). Low-calorie, no-fat, no-sugar, no-taste, no-anything-actually-it’s-just-air yogurt. Weight loss pills that warn in subscript “may literally make you throw up your vitals organs but at least you’ll lose weight haha am I right?”. Tank tops that draw in your gut. Hair removal cream. Those weird plastic wraps that you’re supposed to wind around your belly to make it disappear. Stuff that covers birthmarks. Stretch mark cream. And beer for the guys. Always.

It comes at you from all sides, relentlessly. But you can’t let them win. You know who I mean. Them. The fat bald guys behind these companies dangling a picture of Adriana Lima in front of you so they can snag your wallet. Just think– every time you allow yourself to practice self-hate and buy the products promising beauty and butts and birds twittering around your head, an old man in a tweed suit who votes republican puts some money in his pocket that he’ll use to buy a Playboy and a 32-pack. Buy a cupcake, buy a book, buy a puppy– but for Christ’s sake don’t buy the shit that’s supposed to remedy the problems you didn’t know you had until they told you you did.

Love yourself. Love your belly and your boobs and that chub around your armpits and love your chin– or chins, as many as you’ve got. Love the miscellaneous places your bones may protrude and your cellulite. And your round cheeks and your flat butt and your giant birthmarks and hair, wherever it grows. Love your dark skin or your pasty skin and the way your legs look when you cross them. Love the way your body works for you. Love the way it’s malleable but also firm and the way it’s always fighting to keep moving even if you berate and abuse it.

This summer, don’t beat the shit out of your body. Protect it, love it, appreciate it. Use it to go swimming and watch Netflix and hike and sit on the couch and eat chips and do stupid things with your friends and eat really good watermelon and drink ice-cold Cokes at cute diners. Use it for what it’s meant for; to live a full and fearless life. And every time you start to feel doubt or self-hate creeping up on you, whirl around and punch the elderly republican man in the face and eat the fucking ice cream.

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