The Psychology Behind the “Bikini Body” — And Why You Should Avoid the Obsession
Spring is finally and officially here. We can say hello to longer days, more sunshine and, of course, spring break. Whether you’re a student gearing up to throw an epic spring break party or you’re part of the post-college crowd on the hunt for some relaxing spots, chances are you’ve been hearing the growing buzz about getting a “spring break body.” What is it about this particular vacay that makes us all go a little cray trying to get (as women’s magazines have historically labeled it) “bikini-ready”?
According to Dr. Kelsey Latimer, lead psychologist at the Center for Pediatric Eating Disorders at Children’s Health in Plano, most universities and treatment centers recognize the weeks leading up to spring break as a time of risk, and increase their programming. In fact, the University of Alabama recently reported that spring break is “the prime time” for eating disorders to flair up on college campuses across the nation.
The inner critic in us all might be looking to YouTube for beach bod workouts, going to the gym a few more times than our typical routine or chatting with our besties about new diet trends to try. “When asked what started their eating disorder, an overwhelming number of patients in our center answer something to the effect of wanting to change their appearance for an upcoming event, such as the beginning of the school year, getting ready for swimsuit season or spring break,” said Dr. Latimer.
But with skimpy clothing lining retailers’ walls and our Instagram feeds filling up with beach scenes, it’s human to go there. Dr. Latimer adds, “In our society, our self-esteem is very strongly linked to our body-esteem, and this can set us up for feeling very negatively about ourselves if our bodies do not look how we want them to.”
You can enjoy your vacay without allowing body dissatisfaction to affect your time away. Dr. Latimer suggests that we try to remember that vacation is a time to be enjoyed. “Fearing how you will look in a swimsuit is taking us out of the fun of the moment and placing us in the anxiety of our mind. It is important to remind ourselves that other people are not focusing on your body as much as you may feel they are. It is also helpful to remember that you’re not the only one who worries about how they look in a swimsuit.”
Dr. Latimer notes that the worst moments are in our mind. Put simply, she suggests that you do you. “Wear what you’re comfortable in.” Amen to that.
Traveling for spring break? Tweet us where you’re heading @BritandCo!
Photos via Getty.