Op-ed

Ask Ali: body pressure

Image: “Mantra Apr 3” by Crystal Coleman is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Oh spring, how beautiful you are. Your bountiful blossoms, your warm, whispering winds, your dewy dawns, and the harsh pressure you bring to alter my lifestyle choices so as to look good in a bikini for the upcoming summer season.

How delightful.

All jokes aside, springtime is one of the best times. The weather warms up, the walks to class are more pleasant and people seem to come out of the woodworks of hibernation, shaking off the icy unproductiveness of winter and leaping straight into the hectic springtime.

While it is a time that many people feel their best mentally, there is a drastic change in the way people, typically girls, feel about themselves physically as spring and summer wardrobes make their body shapes apparent.

There is literally no point in reiterating the narrative we are all too familiar with, in which we have been smacked over the head with the idea of what the ideal summertime body, AKA “bikini bod,” looks like. After coming face-to-face with this image since before we even started caring what our bodies looked like, it goes without saying that most girls feel the need to achieve the desired look.

This need to fit our unique bodies into a most likely face-tuned, Stockphoto, cookie cutter shape is not a new narrative nor is it a mindset that looks the same for everyone. Some women feel the need to lose weight, putting themselves on unhealthy diets and crazy workout regimens in the hopes of shedding as many pounds as they can before summer. Others feel the need to gain weight as we are taught to feel ashamed of twiggy limbs and the lack of chest or behind.

I have been a small person my entire life. I remember being seven years old and sitting in the doctor’s office as the pediatrician prescribed me milkshake diets because he thought I was too frail. It was never something I could control; it is just how my body is and has always been.

I’m not even going to sit here and rant about how unhealthy it is for everyone to want to alter the body they were given, because we’ve all been told that before, too.

Now, I am in my late teens, living my life in the dawn of Photoshop and Instagram filters, and I am still being reminded that my body doesn’t necessarily fit the mold. I’m not particularly hippy, nor do I have a whole lot going down around my rear, and the need to gain some curve is always there, whether I choose to adhere to that mindset or not.

I’m not even going to sit here and rant about how unhealthy it is for everyone to want to alter the body they were given, because we’ve all been told that before, too. However, I do wish to point out one thing in hopes that it will show just how stupid this whole concept really is.

No one is ever content.

This sounds super bleak and miserable, but in a way, it provides me with a great deal of comfort. There are women who see themselves as bigger, and wish to be thin. I have been thin all my life and have always recognized the pressure that is put on me to be bigger. There is no winning.

Again, this concept can sound somewhat depressing; however, this  ideology is a situation in which the cliche, “the grass is always greener,” truly applies. Everyone wants what they don’t have – even when what they have is equally as beautiful and special.

I am entering the infamous ‘bikini bod grind season’ knowing that the desire to change my body can only take up as much room in my mind as I allow it to.

With that in mind, I am entering the infamous “bikini bod grind season” knowing that the desire to change my body can only take up as much room in my mind as I allow it to. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent… not even that Instagram photo that you’ve been comparing yourself to for the last hour.”

Okay, so she didn’t say that last part, but the quote is undeniably applicable here. No one, be that a person in real life, in a magazine or on the screen can make you feel bad about yourself unless you let them.

A bikini body is a body that chooses to wear a bikini. Nothing more and nothing less. It is not defined by the amount of curves one has, the size of one’s midsection, the surface area of one’s butt or the number on the scale.

Our bodies are nothing more than vehicles for our minds and souls, which are far too valuable to be burdened by the comparison of those vehicles. We are worth so much more than the things we reduce ourselves to, and it is time to start changing our mindsets rather than our bodies.

Ali Kochik is a first-year English major. AK908461@wcupa.edu

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