Ahh Fall. Fresh air – goodbye humidity! – fall fashion and, of course, the much lauded “sweater bod” that many of you have been missing all summer. This year, however, we all need more than a closet update to fit the changing of the seasons – we need a vocab update as well! Read on to see how casual terms could be hijacking your self-esteem without you even knowing it!
You’ve heard them before. In the spring. At the end of summer. People starting back to the gym in April say “I gotta get my summer bod back”. And others, in September say “I can’t freakin’ wait for sweater weather – goodbye, summer body, hellloooo sweater bod!”. There are a dozen variations. And they’re all used hundreds of times, seemingly innocuously, each year. But the truth is that expressions like this can do more harm than good.
For one thing, “summer body” suggests that only a very specific, typically very fit, type of body is acceptable in the summer, at the beach and so on. That couldn’t be farther from the truth! Every body can be a summer body (or bikini body!). When we use these terms, attend or support classes or programs with slogans such as “15 days ‘til your summer body” and “get your best summer body ever” etc., we send a message to ourselves – and to others – that we and they are not good enough as we are. Of course being healthy is important, but that should be a year-round, life-long pursuit, not just something that occurs April-August!
“Sweater bod” on the other hand, unless it truly just refers to the refreshing feeling of wearing a crisp cardi in fall, can also be an issue. Why? Because it’s typically partnered with celebrations around no longer having to have that “summer body”. Lumps, bumps, curves and “flaws” of all types can get stuffed away and hidden beneath sweaters and long sleeves instead of having to be flaunted in tank tops or bathing suits. And while a good long sleeve shirt is a great thing, no one should put one on feeling like they need to hide to hide themselves or their bodies.
“Sweater bod” also becomes an issue when it’s paired with enjoyment around food. Instagram pictures filled with manicured nails holding Starbucks cups and mugs of coffee, surrounded by fall leaves and captioned “Full fat latte #FTW #sweaterbod” start to become common. The response is typically “Amen!!” and “You go girl – right there with you!”, all of which suggests that people – particularly women – aren’t allowing themselves to enjoy the food they normally would during the late spring and summer months. By using vocab that enforces public ideas around “good” and “bad” foods, “summer” and “sweater” bodies, we unintentionally support the diet-industry and are self-shaming ourselves and others without even knowing it! Talk about a big no thank you!!
So now what?
As we transition from summer to fall, I encourage each of you to take a moment and think about ways in which you can have a positive impact as a promoter of self-love and body positivity. Maybe it’s deciding not using the phrases discussed in this article. Maybe it’s petitioning your gym to not use terms like “summer body” come spring. Maybe it’s educating your children on the importance of staying healthy year-round. Or perhaps it’s as simple as finding a body positive mantra and saying it to yourself every morning this fall. Whatever action you take, no matter how small, you’ll be making a difference and reshaping how you – and potentially others – think about health and bodies all year long!
I would love to hear your ideas! Please share in the comments below!