How to Love Your Summer Body

We are in the age of the quarantine. Our gymless bodies have lost msucle and perhaps gained some fat cells. These are normal and healthy responses to a crisis situation, a sign that our bodies are functioning and, really, doing amazing things. We know this on some level. We know, logically, that the best way to be swimsuit ready is to put on a swimsuit. Humans aren’t logical creatures though, and it can be very hard for some humans to love their summer body.

So, I want to share a method I learned to boost confidence and promote healthy attitudes. You’ll need:

  1. A camera.
  2. A way to shoot that camera without touching it (mine is wifi enabled).

You can use your phone camera and a selfie stick. You can use a timer. It doesn’t matter.

Step One: Make Promises

The first thing you need to do, before you even set up the camera, is make a promise to yourself that the photos you will produce in the next hour are only for you. You are not going to post these anywhere. They will not make you famous. They are not for your dating profile. These photos with be art that only you will ever see. You do not need or want to be thinking about others right now.

Step Two: Suit Up

Put on your swim clothing. If you have multiple outfits you could potentially wear to the beach, pick the one that shows the most skin. Pick the swimsuit that makes you the most nervous. Put that on.

If you do not own a swimsuit. That’s okay! Shorts and a bra or binders is fine. Just shorts is fine. Your regular underwear is fine. Remember, only you will ever see these photos.

Step Three: Point(e)

Now, set that camera up. If you have a tripod, great, use it. If you don’t, throw some books on top of a coffee table, set your camera on your bookshelf, or tie your phone to your dog. These aren’t professional photos. These are for funsies. Hey, did you notice that? You just did something while wearing your swim wear. That’s a step. Make sure your clicking device or plan works.

Step Four: Pose

Before you start clicking, play around a bit. You know those models you’ve seen on social media that contort themselves into weird positions for their photos? I want you to make fun of them. Seriously, be as rude as possible. Nobody is watching. Embody different animals. Make sounds. When you start having so much fun that you feel like laughing, it’s time to take the photos. Whatever you do, don’t look up photos of models or animals. Just use your imagination. This time is for you to focus on you and only you.

Step Five: Click

Start snapping photos. As many as you can. They won’t all be fun and great and dynamic. That’s fine. Just keep clicking. Keeping moving. Keeping making fun of images that you’ve seen. Take photos until your energy starts to slip. If you have a chronic illness, that may come quicker than you hope. That’s fine. There is no quota.

Step Six: Make Art

Transfer those photos to your computer and open them with any photo editor that allows you to play with levels. You will NOT be airbrushing these. Instead, pump up the contrast. Pull down the exposure a bit. Boost those shadows.

Every cellulite bump, every acne and surgery scar, every dimple will instantly become visible and pronounced. Good. Boost clarity while you’re at it. You should now be seeing you as you would look under the worst lighting imaginable.

Step Seven: Take it in

Close your eyes. Tell yourself your about to look at a work of art.

Now, open them. Take the photo in all at once, not focusing on any one part of you. What you see in front of you is not an airbrushed social media post or curated career head shot. It isn’t appropriate for either of those outlets, but imagine it hanging in some indie art gallery in Portland. Somehow, that visual works. After all, photos exist outside of time. A photograph has no before and no after, no prior existence to which it can be compared.

If you doubt yourself even a little looking at this photo, let others into the picture. If you didn’t know that it was you in that photo, would you hate the photo? Close your eyes again, and, this time, tell yourself that it is someone else. Keep doing this until you are able to take the whole photo in at once and really, truly appreciate it, until you love the photo.

Once you love the photo, you can connect it back. Once you love the photo, let yourself realize that it is a photo of your summer body. Every lump and bump and scar is a work of art worthy of admiration.

Step Eight: Walk Away

I wasn’t tricking you. You are never to post this photo or these photos anywhere. Keep them for yourself and, the next time you question your body, go back and remind yourself that you are art.

Even if you write a blog post telling others about this method, never show a soul. Happy summer.

Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional. This is not medical or mental health advice.

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