Every year we ask our Youth Committee members what topics they would like to learn more about and discuss, and every year body image is something that comes up as an interest. From a young age, we are given so many images and expectations about what we are supposed to look like. Getting these messages from the media, celebrities, parents, and peers can become incredibly overwhelming, time consuming, and let's face it, mentally exhausting.

Living in a virtual world has only exacerbated these messages about our bodies, as we are bombarded on social media with tips and tricks on how to achieve the perfect skin, the perfect pose, how you can get your crush’s attention, etc. With summer approaching it brings with it a particularly challenging narrative focused on getting your body "bikini ready."

Like many others, my relationship with my body changed a lot during quarantine. I woke up one day and realized my favorite pair of shorts that fit me not too long ago, no longer did. I tried telling myself that I was doing ok, but I was inundated with messages on social media that made me feel worse about how my body was transforming. I saw people going on runs, making gyms in their garages, whereas I was trying to let my body rest.

Personally, what has helped me learn how to appreciate my body as it is changing is the body neutrality philosophy. This has offered a way of looking at what my body is capable of, rather than what it can look like. For instance, I have broad shoulders, so much so that it’s hard shopping for shirts because the shoulder seam will ride up and be uncomfortable. I now try to see my shoulders as a strength, I can carry large loads, heavy backpacks, and I look like a superhero. Body image and self-love is a very personal journey, and you have to find what works for you. What works best for me, might not work for you.

Ultimately as summer approaches, ignore the noise and lean into what makes you most comfortable. And as far as social media goes, remember that you create the experience, so follow accounts that you enjoy and make you feel good about yourself. If you are at a loss on where to start, on the next page is a beginner's guide of resources from the Prevention Team & Youth Committee.

For more body image resources, please visit here