Bathing Suit Season!! Bring On the Body Shaming...

It’s that time of year again. Time for the endless blogs, pins, articles, and commercials toting the perfect, no fail plan to get ‘The Best Bikini Body Ever, Ever, Ever Imaginable’.

Do you know what I don’t like about these “no fail/perfect” plans? EVERYTHING!!! 

They’re Dangerous

Most of these bikini body plans are prescribing the very criteria that I use to diagnose an eating disorder: restrictive eating, increased exercise, compulsive calorie counting and weight tracking, and an unhealthy focus on body size and proportions. For some people this can be incredibly dangerous and even life threatening.

This isn’t just a size thing either. Women in smaller bodies are shamed for not having rock hard abs or toned arms. No body is safe this time of year.

They Don’t Work

Researchers show that 95% of dieters regain all of the weight they initially lost, and sometimes more, within 3 years. People who yo-yo in weight are more likely to have health complications and depression.

They Rank Foods

According to the 30 different bikini plans I read TODAY, chocolate is “bad” and super foods, like avocado, are “good”. (Hands up in the air shaking and a noise similar to a scream coming out of my frustrated self). There are no “good” or “bad” foods!!

I have a friend who, at the end of a really tough day, will eat some chocolate. Her blood pressure goes down, the racing thoughts subside, and she is able to relax and enjoy the moment. According to my friend, chocolate is self-care in a wrapper. Avocado is helpful for energy, stabilizing sugars in the blood, and lowering cholesterol. So avocados can be beneficial, but for my friend, chocolate is too.

Did you know people are more likely to experience shame and engage in binge-eating when they restrict?

The only time a food should be off-limits is when there is a major food allergy.

It Targets Women

Women make up 86% of the consumers buying diet magazines, pills, services, etc. That’s 86% of the $66 billion dollar enterprise that is the diet industry. Their marketing strategy works: remind women about all of their insecurities and then sell them a product to “help”

The best part is in three years when the weight is back on they will buy the product again. It’s a win-win for them.

The Focus Is Single-Minded

Okay, now for the main reason I hate the bikini season craze: their focus is premised that only one body type looks good in a bikini. The idea that only women who are small, toned, and tan are bikini acceptable is disgusting, single-minded, and dangerous.

The fact that women are shamed into buying weight loss products every single summer should bother you. Whoever you are, regardless of gender or size, it should bother you. It bothers me.

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Tamara Duarte

Tamara Duarte is a counselor, author, speaker, and activist. Her private practice, Get Centered Counseling in Vancouver WA, helps women with food and body issues learn to love themselves, their body, their life, and their relationships. Her life’s work is steeped in personal experience, having fifteen years in recovery for anorexia, in addition to being a breast cancer survivor. An up and coming force in the counseling community, Tamara has been published in a textbook called Treatment Strategies for Substance and Process Addictions, and has sat on a panel at the American Counseling Association Conference, where she spoke to her peers on strategies and tools to use with clients struggling with eating disorders. Having a deep, personal understanding of what it takes to recover from this condition, she seeks to be an example to those she treats, to let them know that recovery is possible. Currently developing a podcast which addresses the cultural issues that promote body shame, self-esteem issues and eating disorders, Tamara lives in Vancouver, Washington, with her husband and best friend, Adam, enjoying life to the fullest with their two beautiful children, Jacob and Chloe.