It’s almost swimsuit season. We all know what that means…

In the months before swimsuit season, that means that women’s magazines are bombarded with ads on how to have a “bikini body” in just a couple weeks while simultaneously guilt tripping us for not looking like the airbrushed models.

Making us feel as though we're battling with our own bodies to look good in a swimsuit.

Making us feel as though we’re battling with our own bodies to look good in a swimsuit.

I personally still struggle a lot with wearing form-fitting clothes that reveal my figure, so you can imagine what a nightmare swimsuit season is. Even for girls who have a relatively healthy body image, the mixed messages sent from swimsuit ads result in women feeling self-conscious and embarrassed about their bodies for three months straight.

Screen shot 2013-05-09 at 7.12.26 AM

In recent years, women’s magazines have started to pick up on the national movement to improve body image and self-esteem, but they’re still balancing between this new mindset and the old, money-making mindset that encourages women to use their diet and weight loss products. A perfect example can be seen with the “Love Your Body” section of Women’s Health magazine – are we supposed to love our bodies and take the “7 steps to a healthier attitude” for the way they are now, or love our bodies after we have a “butt that defies grativty” and “rock solid abs”?  These mixed messages are everywhere, which can make it even harder for women to truly love their bodies.

 Screen shot 2013-05-09 at 7.13.54 AM

Another example of conflicting messages is sent through H&M’s recent advertising. They’ve received a lot of praise recently for using a plus-sized model in their swimsuit ads, but when I went online to look at their swimsuit collection, only one, typically thin model was used for every single swimsuit. H&M is making strides forward in their store advertising, but if I’m only shopping online (which many people my age do), what kind of message is it sending when only one model/body type is used?

KNXV_Jennie_Runk_Plus_Size_H&M_Model_20130502161959_320_240 Screen shot 2013-05-07 at 8.01.42 PM

So how do we feel good about ourselves even during swimsuit season? While there isn’t one right answer to that question, here are some tips that have helped me:

1.     Hang out with people who don’t care what you look like in a swimsuit. When my boyfriend and I went to Florida two summers ago, at first I was really upset because I kept comparing myself to all the other girls who looked better than me. My boyfriend reminded me that what I looked like in a swimsuit wasn’t important at all – what was important was that I was spending time with people who cared about me, and that I was having fun. Once I realized that, I was able to have a great time regardless of what I looked like. As long as we surround ourselves with people who are more focused on having fun than looking good, having the perfect beach body won’t matter.

2.     Don’t take the advice magazines give you about having a bikini body. As stated before, magazines send so many mixed messages that trying to follow their advice will drive anyone crazy.

Tips from Glamour Magazine on how to look good this summer.

Tips from Glamour Magazine on how to look good this summer.

3.     Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body.

4.   Wear what makes you comfortable. Swimsuits are getting skimpier and sexier as the years go on, but just focus on wearing what YOU like, not what you think others might like. Instead of feeling bad for not being able to pull off a certain type of swimsuit, here’s a video from The Ellen Show that shows how ridiculous these new styles are in the first place:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVq9XbcKvYc

What are some tips that have helped you become comfortable in a swimsuit? I want to hear them!

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