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Swimsuit ready fad should include appreciation for all bodies

Emma Olinger, Online Editor

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Thinspiration: a word considered by many to be a helping hand in their journey to a healthy body. Others use it to justify skipping meals. In many ways, “thinspiration” has several positive and negative aspects, especially relating to being “swimsuit-ready.” Seeing photos of people who are in shape can cause people to be inspired to work out, but it can also cause people to develop eating disorders.

Forty-four percent of people who aren’t at the gym say they feel guilty for not working out, according to refinery29.com. These statistics can have a negative effect on teenagers if trends like the “beach body ready” fad continue. Sophomore Lizzy Reilly said she is familiar with this trend.

“To be swimsuit-ready kind of means that you’re insecure a little bit,” Reilly said. “The ideal body to wear a swimsuit and go to the beach or the pool is kind of unattainable.”

Reilly said there are positive and negative aspects of this trend. On one end, she said there is potential to decrease the national statistics of obese Americans. However, there is also potential for teenagers and other people to put themselves through mental anguish in order to attain the “perfect body.”

“You can look good and people will like that you look good, but the emotional misery you put yourself through to look good isn’t worth it,” Reilly said. “Especially if you’re doing it for other people and not just for yourself.”

With the evolution of social media, trends like “swimsuit readiness” are shared with young people more than ever before. In an internet-centric society, teenagers and even pre-teens are being pressured by companies online that manipulate them to sell their product. Reilly said media promoting a thin lifestyle is constantly surrounding her, from the phone in her pocket to the billboards on the highway.

“You see stories on Snapchat about how to get killer abs, how to get toned legs,” Reilly said. “You see ads for sportswear with really in-shape models with lots of Photoshop, you see magazines in the grocery store aisles —  it’s everywhere. It’s hard to ignore if you don’t look like that especially. It’s really tough.”

Freshman Tushar Kotamraju said he believes advertisements like these have influenced students to lose weight. He said media has influenced him and other people to lose weight, and his journey to shed off a couple extra pounds has been challenging.

“I’ve tried to work out and I still haven’t lost much weight,” Kotamraju said. “I checked my weight and found I gained an extra pound, and I was like, ‘I didn’t eat any donuts.’ It’s about working out and getting on a good diet, which can be pretty hard for people.”

Although using the term “swimsuit-ready” to describe an ideal body has been a relatively recent trend — shooting up to thirty-four percent in Google trends since 2004 — Kotamraju said unfair clichés have poisoned society for many years.

“I think that people have been pressuring other people to look good for a while,” Kotamraju said. “There are so many stereotypes that are very sexist — like girls should be petite or small and boys should be muscular. It’s been happening for a long time, and it’s not just about swimsuits.”

The other side of sexism in this trend has to do with the lack of attention men get when regarding this topic, Reilly said.

“There is definitely pressure on men to look good in swimsuits,” Reilly said. “With stuff like this, especially concerning body issues, people often forget that men also go through this kind of stuff. It’s kind of disrespectful to disregard their issues.”

Men’s body issues aren’t as important as female body issues in today’s society because they are not labeled to care about vanity. In all realness, these issues affect everyone, reguardless of gender.

“I think both men and women are pressured to look good in swimsuits,” Kotamraju said. “For women, I don’t think they are expected to be muscular, but they are expected to be ‘hot.’”

The swimsuit-ready trend has potential to lead to eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. According to nationaleatingdisorders.org, several studies have been conducted that prove mass media expose thin body ideals to consumers and anyone who has a phone and internet access could provide countless examples. Reilly said she has seen advertisements that have caused her to worry for teenagers that struggle with self-esteem issues.

“Have you seen that stuff that says, ‘get thin in one week’ and it’s about eating all these odd foods or not eating at all?” Reilly said. “That’s really awful because you need food to live; you need water to live. It’s about how you pick and choose what to eat — that’s what makes a difference. If you choose not to eat, that’s the worst thing you can do for your body.”

In addition to the promotion of eating disorders, harmful trends like the “swimsuit-ready” fad can cause other people to pressure their peers into looking “thin.” Perseverance has proven to be a great strategy against negative energy in Kotamraju’s life. He said the best thing he could do for himself was to simply do what his peers thought he couldn’t do because of his size.

“In my fourth grade swimming class, there were a lot of boys there and I was the fattest one in the group,” Kotamraju said. “I was the chubbiest. Some of the other kids were genuinely built, which was surprising. They made fun of me, ‘Hey tubby, how are you gonna float?’ But I powered through it; I still swim now and I’m pretty good at it.”

Reilly said she hopes her peers understand that no one truly cares how other people look, as long as they are having a good time. Those who do care, Reilly said, are the ones that should be cut out.

“There’s a quote from Tyrion Lannister that says, ‘Once you’ve accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you,’” Reilly said. “I think that statement is really telling.”

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The Mass Communications Site of Blue Valley Southwest
Swimsuit ready fad should include appreciation for all bodies