Why Summer 2021 Has Made Me Feel Better About My Body

STELLAR’s deputy editor Rebecca Keane on embracing the skin she’s in

Let me preface this by admitting I am Summer’s biggest fan. Whatever my size, I’ve always loved the feeling of the sun on my veiny limbs – lord knows I’ve enough wrinkles and lines from probably having been out in the sun too long (wearing SPF, obvs). But I don’t care! Heat, warmth and blue skies lift my mood so much and being able to be outside dusk until dawn is such a privilege I wish we could have all year round.

But come rain or shine, every summer we are inevitably presented with the peak of beauty ideals. From Love Island to swimwear campaigns to Insta, all you can see for miles are sky high arses with cheeks as glimmering and dimple free as two free range bowling balls. Boobs so round and erect they may take your eye out should you get too close. Washboard stomachs so tight they look like stretched leather. Their skin, their hair, their faces… everything is perfect. But while it may have made me feel shit about myself in the past, I’ve gotten to the point where I can ogle the Love Island contestants without that sinking feeling that I am the most disgusting misshapen potato in comparison. 

 

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Call it post-pandemic or the fact I’ve been vaccinated, I find myself simply not caring about how I look in a swimsuit these days. There are bigger fish to fry in the year of our Lord Dolly Parton 2021. This is the body that has kept me COVID-free the last two years, the body I can belly flop into Vico Baths and safely float to the surface with, the body that has survived stress, anxiety, breakdowns, vicious post-apocalyptic level hangovers, the body I mistreat and curse and still somehow miraculously still works, albeit with a few cracks of bones here and there and a few janky bits that could be solved with a spray or two or WD-40. 

It feels like, well I hope, that others are feeling the same, given how packed our swimming places and beaches are of late. The months we had to spend cooped up inside, dreaming of being outside our 5km or doing anything that wasn’t sleeping or working has given me an appreciation for well, everything. I’m mindful of being able to swim and sunbathe far away from my home is a treasure I still can’t quite believe I’m allowed do.

Looking around the beach recently, I realised what has always been very obvious if you have a certain mindset. There is NO SUCH THING as a perfect body, and despite what we might be presented with on telly and Instagram, no two bodies are the same either. There were roundy bums, every kind of breasts, both broad and slender shoulders, curvy and thin thighs, back dimples, cellulite, skinny ankles, long necks and every type of body part imaginable all on display on the beach. Washboard abs were in the minority, gals were letting their boobs and bellies soak up the sun and at least on the outside, nobody appeared to give a flying feck. Nobody was ogling anyone else, everyone was just… living.  Now, it may have been a struggle for some to even put their swimmers on that morning, but frolicking on the sand, you’d never have known. It was gorgeous. 

Another thing that’s helped me this year? The Olympics. Athletes at the absolute pinnacle of their strength and talent, all with different type of bodies that don’t suit some aesthetic trend, but that allow them to function at their very best.

I’ve marveled at some of the amazing, awe-inspiring bodies competing because they are bodies primarily for function, rather than appearance. Not that their bodies aren’t beautiful of course, but I don’t think those medals will win themselves should the athletes decide to stay in because they hate how their hips stick out of a pair of cycling shorts (I can’t tell you how many things I’ve missed out or deliberately flaked on because of this). They have no option but to nourish, fuel and worship their bodies to enable the incredible feats of strength and determination they do on a daily basis.

All of this has just left me feeling better about the skin and tissue I live in. I saw American creator Tinx describe the body as “a meat sack for the soul” and I don’t think I’ve ever loved an analogy more? You don’t have to love your meat sack, but you can appreciate everything it can do. Next time the sun comes out and mercury rises, enjoy it as much as you can. One life to live, and all that.

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