Making peace with beach photos

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Beach body fears are perhaps what most of my clients most dread at Summer - and I get it, I used to hate the warm weather for the same reason. This week I got to push the boundaries of my own healing and discover just how far I've come by setting myself a bikini photo challenge every day during my Greek holiday.

If you've ever had a moment of fear at seeing a camera on your hols, then this blog is for you.  

Recently, I was lucky enough to visit the beautiful island of Kephalonia where I saw my friend get married (joy!). When we weren't celebrating, we were on the beach and it was bliss to have cocktails delivered to you from a sun lounger. And while I can hang out all day at the beach (And it might sound silly) but I can even walk across a busy bar without putting on a sarong ... this was very much not the case a few years ago!

Backtrack to my twenties and the idea of a group holiday was my idea of hell on Earth.

I grew up by the beach and vividly remember turning down invitations of beach day hang outs because of my body insecurities. Another time, on a holiday, I had met tasty local and his invitation to go and meet him and his friends on the beach the following day almost brought me to tears while getting ready to go.  It was only a talking down from my friend that got me there. 

Beaches and I have got bad history. I know that for many being able to walk across a beach bar in a bikini might seem trivial, but to me it's a huge triumph every time.

But there's one thing which has been my nemesis - a full length bikini photo. I mean, why would you do that to yourself right?! 

Well, Love Island has started and to be honest, I'm fucking fuming at the comments from producers that say that they don't want to put in plus size folk to the villa because 'they wanted contestants to fancy each other' (subtext: no one will fancy the fat people) Not only does this sell the myth that being anything apart from very thin is attractive (perpetuating ridiculous beauty ideals) but it's also fucking up a whole generation of young people (mainly girls) who think that unless they look like a model then they aren't worthy of love or adoration. Nice one ITV. *Face palm*

When I heard this comment I thought about myself at 16 years old who lost out on memories because she thought she was too fat to be seen in public in a swimsuit - when in reality, I looked bloody lovely and didn't have a thing to worry about!

Flippant fatphobic comments like this have the potential to fuck people up for life. Thanks Love Island.

In Greece, I realised that I was still hiding from full-length photos because I was worried about my old demons. Well, fuck that shit.  Every day during the holiday I made someone take a full-length bikini photo of me. I've even taken photos of me eating and drinking, belly rolls and stretch marks out for all to see. 

After each photo, I've worried about whether I'll like what I see and each time I've surprised myself by realising that my demons are wrong. There is nothing wrong with my body. My belly pooch is fine, my stretch marks are fine - I say fine because I am lucky enough to become more or less indifferent to them (hello, I'm still human and we all have bad days). But I have also come far enough on my journey to appreciate that I have shit tons of privilege with my body - I can buy clothes in ‘normal shops’, I am able bodied and white. These mean I can move about the world with ease. Whether of not I have a thigh gap should be (and is really) totally unimportant.

It's so freeing to let go of giving a fuck what anyone else thinks of me or my bum. I feel so proud of the work that I've done to become 'body positive' (which is such a blah word now diet culture has got its hands on it but the sentiment still stands).  It was incredible to be able to look at photos on myself on a beach and not want to delete them instantly. If I can get this far - definitely so can you.

I still have demons but my body functions perfectly (enough) and my shape is my shape - a bit wobbly, a bit scarred and a bit squidgy. I would much rather be like this and mentally free from crushing restrictive thoughts like I used to have. Body acceptance isn’t giving up, it’s freedom.

Love Island and its producers are wrong to only show one way to have a summer body. Your body is worthy of sunshine and sea and ice cream.

Here are 5 tips to make peace with beach photos and embrace summer body confidence:

1. Invest in swimwear that fits - I know it might sound ridiculously obvious (and even a bit trivial) but chuck out any old swimsuits that are too tight or make you feel uncomfortable. If you feel uncomfortable or like you're falling out then you'll never be able to strut it. Buy a size bigger if you need to. Looking confident has so much to do with feeling comfortable and swimwear is no exception. Treat yourself to a cover-up that feels part of your outfit not something you're hiding behind. 

2. Don't hide from photos - these are memories and you deserve to be in them! When looking at photos try not to hone into the parts of yourself you don't like. Take in the whole scene. Where are you? Who else is there? What's the weather like? What memory is this? See the bigger picture and stop looking at the minutiae. You are so much more than your body and this photo is so much more than your <insert insecurities here>. 

3.  Treat yourself like you would your best friend - when you say horrible things to yourself, try and catch it and see what your bestie would say. Check out these blogs for more on this.

4. Focus on the fun - holidays are about getting away from it all and enjoying yourself. Keep in mind the reason you're going away. Think about the new people you might meet, the experiences you'll have or the new foods you might try. Life is meant for the taking, don't let diet mentality or diet culture steal away your life experiences!

5. Remember we're all in this together - sadly society dictates which bodies are more or less 'acceptable' (Love Island, get in the bin) Acceptance isn't in achieving the 'perfect body' because this doesn't exist. However, we are fed lie after lie that this isn’t the case. I promise you huns, giving up diets is the only true path to loving yourself long term. Acceptance comes from knowing that perfection is a myth and that bodies are messy and uncontrollable - and this is where the beauty is. 

If you’d like to get a taste of what it’s like to have you very own coach and cheerleader to help you break free from diet mentality and feelings of not ‘good enough’ then head here and book a FREE 40 mins discovery call. Love Harri Rose x