What to do this Bikini Season
It's Memorial Day weekend, the time of year when the bikinis come pop out of hibernation and the shaming side of the fitness industry rears it's ugly head. Years ago when I was in fitness sales, we literally depended on people to start feeling bad about imagining themselves at the pool so they would come purchase memberships and personal training.
We used phrases like:
"Get your bikini body ready before it's September!" "Lose the Winter Pooch"
"Have Your Best Summer Ever!" ... and paired these with lots of before and after photos.
Our fear was that our customers would stop coming to classes, purchasing session packages, or cancel their membership. So instead we put the fear on our clients. We'd hand out our free workout passes in Central Park, offer "bikini season" smaller personal training packages, and use phrases that gave the impression to our members that staying thin was the only way to have a good Summer. Granted I wasn't personally responsible for these marketing materials, but as a representative for these companies I am not entirely without blame. There's a solid reason why I don't do that shit on my social media. It's just plain toxic. I do not want my clients to feel shamed into exercise. The promotion of a "thin ideal" and "skinny equals happy" is one of the reasons I do not include before/after photos on my social media or website. That being said, I don't judge anyone for wanting to lose weight. We all have our own reasons why we workout. Many of my clients hire me for weight loss, and I'm more than happy to help them get there.
There were many times in my life where I felt uncomfortable in my body so I dieted and exercised just to feel more confident. It just never made me happy. I truly only started feeling confident, strong, and capable when I started training for triathlons and lifting heavier weights. Even then, I used to envy all the other athletes who "could" wear a speed bikini in the pool. My one-piece was always uncomfortable, but I never had the popping 6-pack, so in my head I never "deserved" to wear it.
That all changed at 30 weeks pregnant. I finally "popped" out of my normal suits and decided it was time to stop caring.
I'm joining you in swimsuit season this year with some reeaaally intense stretch marks, cellulite, and loose skin. My body has been through a hell of a lot in the past three years and although I'm sure there are products out there I can get to cover this all up, I have no desire to. (Also, they don't work, in case you were curious.) Our children are watching, and if we're covering up and self-shaming our bodies, they will too. Don't get me wrong, one-pieces are wonderful for body surfing and a little cover up comes in handy for avoiding sunburns, but there's no cutoff on what size is "allowed" to wear what.
Summers are short, so please don't waste your time concerning yourself of what anyone else thinks or what the fitness and beauty industry tell you is acceptable. Have a wonderful start to your Summer!