By Margherita Sgorbissa
Summer is coming and again the world is taking the chance to turn this season into a great excuse to market bikinis, diet products, fitness programs and body expectations. Especially for... guess who? Women!
If you have spent your entire childhood waiting for the summer for every good reason, now - if you are a woman - you may find yourself fearing this time of the year for different kinds of reasons.
The idea of having your body partially uncovered in the middle of the crowd could make you feel uncomfortable. You may not be happy with wearing shorter trousers, skinny tops, short dresses and let your legs, arms or chest pop out. You may not feel excited like years ago because summer is forcing you to feel unhappy with who you are.
But let me tell you one thing: summer is still that amazing season you used to enjoy as a young girl and your fears are not depending on you but mainly on what is around you.
Yesterday I had a conversation with one of my dearest friends. She was talking about the uncomfortable feeling of looking at new mommies and realizing how perfect their bodies were even after being pregnant. She has no kids yet but she fears a lot about how her body will be after a pregnancy, especially because "my body is already not so fit or good looking", she said.
We were chatting on a shared Whatsapp group and another friend started talking about her uncomfortable feeling of being at the beach and only seeing women with perfect bodies.
So, I began my 'Body Love Coaching Session' and I tried to explain them that there is not only one body, not a single model, not a 'good' and a 'bad' body. There are only bodies and every body is beautiful.
It may sound rhetorical but it's true. When I sit in the subway here in Berlin, I observe all the other people and especially other women and it feels good to see how our bodies are different. It makes me feel very good to realize that real life offers many shapes and forms and curves and imperfections and variations. Diversity, in every meaning, is a real fact of our everyday life and we must begin to accept it and turn it into a real frame of reference.
But why does it seem like such a difficult process?
Approaching spring and summer time, the fashion and health industries take advantage of some of women's (and men's too) weak points and turn them into their marketing strategy. Let's start with one of the most popular bikini and summer outfits brand: INTIMISSIMI and its partner, CALZEDONIA.
In Berlin, you know summer is coming when you walk around and start spotting those giant ads with beautiful skinny women with their bikini on their 'perfect' digitally retouched bodies.
Bilion of women look at those ads everyday allday and - whatever their body perception is - they start absorbing one message: the standard of beauty, the one deserving to be shown in a giant ad around a big city, is only that of a skinny, tall, white woman.
The example of INTIMISSIMI and CALEZEDONIA's ads are only one in the milions of fashion industry marketing trends that have been building an unrealistic model of beauty for too long. The constant reproduction of a certain standard in the media (not only fashion, but also in cinema, tv industries, etc) is contributing to reproducing a picture of an unrealistic body and also unrealistic expectations that negatively impact women and men on the way they perceive beauty and bodies.
"Loving your body is
Now, open your Instagram and scroll through your feed. How many skinny women on the beach with 'perfect' skinny and toned bodies can you see there? A lot. How popular are they? Very. Social media is another platforms for this trend of reproducing standard norm of beauty because they value aesthetics instead of reality.
I do not want to argue nor question it (not here and now at least), but Instagram is an everyday companion for many women and the fact that only one standard of beauty seems to be popular (as like one lifestyle standard, one fashion and outfit standard, relationship standard) is something that contributes drastically to creating this idea of a standard model body. We are forced to think that in order to be beautiful, we need to be just like that.
The reproduction of an indisputable standard can cause shame and shyness for many individuals that end up feeling their body as not conforming. The feeling of not being the 'norm' - based on a social constructed concept of norm and beauty - is what contributes to making summer a very tough season for many (especially women). It takes much effort and self confidence to feel ok when the world around you is reenforcing an unrealistic representation of beauty.
When I say unrealistic, I don't mean to say that all the skinny, tall and white women out there are "wrong" or "bad". I mean to say that, again, the women's body is taken as tool to manipulate the common perception, as a weapon to build boundaries between "them" and "us", the skinnies and the other. We assist to a constant exploitation of certain women's bodies and its way of defining which women are beautiful (and deserve to be exhibited like 'dolls' for marketing purposes) and which are not.
I'd like spread a simple message: your body is already a perfect and beautiful body. It's an essential part of you and it doesn't need to be changed unless you want it to. Imperfections and peculiarities are those things that make you the real you, not only building your body form but also your personality. Loving your body is beautifully revolutionary. It's something kind you deserve to do for yourself.
Summer is an amazing season and you deserves to enjoy, no matter what others say, what the 'standards' are, what society's idea of beauty is.
Your skin, your legs, your arms, your chest, your knees deserve to enjoy summer like everyone else's. Embrace your imperfections and help the world to change their mindset and accept diversity!