A confession: I love the 4th of July!
When I was small, July 4th was the day that firmly established that summer was really, truly, finally here. With my family on a blanket waiting for nightfall, the spectacle of fireworks; what could be better? And as I got older and learned about the historical significance of the day, I could appreciate the holiday on a deeper level, with gratitude for celebrating the best, most profound aspects of what it means to be an American.
The Fourth of July also brings to mind days at the beach …or at the lake …or by the pool. Swimsuit weather. But for many people, a day at the beach, well, “ain’t no day at the beach.” For one thing, there are those ubiquitous web and magazine articles and advertisements that play on our anxieties, warning us that our bodies may not be ready for bathing suits. According to http://www.statisticbrain.com, (and based on 2017 data from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, PBS, and the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders,) a full 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies, and 80% of women report that images of women presented in the media make them feel insecure; between 25-30% of teen boys and girls are teased about their weight. No wonder the weight-loss industry weighs in at around $55.4 billion!
As we celebrate the echoes of the American Revolution, I have a not-so-revolutionary suggestion: let’s all ignore the anxious chatter, the body-shamers, the “helpful” comments judging the way our bodies look. Yes, of course, we want our bodies to be healthy and fully functional, but that is our own business. Let us liberate ourselves from the opinions of others, opinions that have more to do about them–and their value systems–than they do about us. Let our own focus be on mindful self-care and not on pleasing the projected preferences of other people.
Let’s make this Independence Day a day of personal independence as well, free from caring about the judgments of others… let’s make our own “declarations of independence,” and acknowledge that, at the end of the day…
is a Beach Body!