The Bikini Body Bias

As Horizon Honors finally lets its students out for summer, aspirations of a “bikini body” seem to plague girls’ heads.

Selina Fluty, Editor of Student Opinion

Welcome to summer break – sunburns, vacations, beaches, and bikini bodies. The bikini body: a mysterious creature that anyone who wants to wear bikinis desires to own. The bikini body: an ideal that seems impossible for bikini-wearing individuals to attain, yet so close, if they don’t eat that burger. Eating healthy isn’t something to shame, but the bikini body is extremely difficult to manage in a healthy manner, and is sometimes not a healthy body type for some people.

The bikini body is one with a flat belly, elegant curves, a lack of love handles, and a voluptuous chest. This image is often associated with eating healthy foods and lounging around on beaches, or strolling on the boardwalk with a bright-colored strap (hint: bikini top) wrapped behind your neck as your slim, tan, beautiful body seems to glow in the light of the summer sun. It’s an ideal that lots of people chase every year, and it can become a harmful ideal way too easily.

Since November, my mother has received emails and letters from the various shops she’s subscribed to, all talking about diets and fads that would help her lose weight. Even Victoria’s Secret (hey, a subscription can get you a nice bra for cheap) had a few comments on bras and undergarments that would help with your body shape. “Just in time for summer!” the booklets told my mom, and then my sister and I. “Start now and you’ll be drop-dead sexy for hot days!” Since March, I’ve heard people in class talk about their bodies with such harmful phrases – “I’m fat, but it’s okay, summer is in a few months and I have time to lose it all then.” I know girls who bought one-piece swimsuits because they thought they were “too fat” for the cute two-piece they found at the same store. There’s so much bias towards being thin that even younger girls are shamed into believing their bodies aren’t “good enough.”

Psychology Today states that the Western “thin ideal” is a concept that thin bodies are healthy and beautiful, and fat bodies are unhealthy and ugly. This ideal can become a gateway to eating disorders, depression, or a low self-esteem, encouraged by gyms and “fitspo” accounts that encourage keeping yourself thin and “beautiful.” The article details a study done on girls. Over a quarter of young girls thought they needed to “cut down” on food to remain “thin.” Young girls (and other younger kids) are being fed the belief from a young age that their bodies are not ideal. Yet, what constitutes an ideal body type ranges far and wide across the world.

The project “Perceptions of Perfection” was a chance to see how different people perceived someone as beautiful, depending on the country. A photo of a woman was sent to different Photoshop professionals from all over the world. They were going to change the photo to make the woman desirable in their country. Although most countries slimmed her down and changed her body, you’d be surprised at the amount of countries that kept her body in mostly the same level of weight as before. Spain was actually one of the only countries that left her lack of a thigh gap alone, but even the United States did little to change the amount of fat on her belly. Perceptions of Perfection ensured lots of girls that their bodies are beautiful, no matter how they look.

No matter how someone looks, they are still beautiful. No matter how much fat is on your body, your body is beautiful. Negative mindsets toward your body mean negative actions to try and change it. This summer, take on the phrase becoming rapidly popular – to have a bikini body, put a bikini on your body.