top: Target (on clearance!) // shorts: thrifted Gap (similar) //sandals: Old Navy // bag: BohoBlue (similar) // earrings: Nina Berenato Jewelry
photos by Chelsea Francis
Summer vacation: a chance to finally relax, or a really crappy time to be triggered by negative body thinking? As much as you want to be able to let those thoughts go when you put on your swimsuit, go to dinner on the beach, and lay out by the pool, it's natural for them to creep in. Vacations often lead to indulging a little more than we're used to (as they should!) and we're not used to having our bodies so exposed.
All of that said, I was surprised with how positive I felt about myself and my body while on my vacation to Port Aransas with Dago last month - so much so that I hopped on Instagram Live to share a few of the ways I helped put myself in the right mindset. In case you missed that video, I wanted to put the tips into writing here so you can refer to them for your own summer vacation.
1. Plan + pack outfits you feel good in as swimsuit cover-ups.
This tip actually spawned an entire post, but this really was one of the best things I did for myself! I like to feel put together (what? you didn't know?), so showing up somewhere in a gauzy cover-up or a pair of comfy shorts and a random cotton tank top was not going to help me feel ready to reveal my beach body. Instead, I thought about cute ways to wear my swimsuit with some of my favorite clothes - clothes that already make me feel cute and confident - so that my swimsuit felt as much like an outfit as anything else I wear. What you wear has a huge impact on how you feel (ahem...), so feeling good in your swimsuit and cover-up can help you have a positive mindset before ever stripping down for a dip.
2. Focus on making memories during your meals rather than how much (or little) you're eating.
As someone who struggled with disordered eating for years, I still have hang-ups around food from time to time. It's normal for your awareness of what you're eating to be heightened when your body is more exposed than usual while on vacation. To help combat this, I recommend focusing on everything else about the meal besides the food. Focus your attention on your company, your conversation, the atmosphere, even taking a pretty #foodstagram. There's no such thing as a "bad" meal - unless it tastes bad, of course - so don't even allow your brain space to judge your dinner choice or your decision to have dessert. When you head to the pool later for a late night swim, your mind will remember how much fun you had during dinner instead of the pasta, burger, etc. that's sitting in your stomach.
3. Bring something to read that grounds you in good body thoughts.
I actually got this tip from Instagram darling/body positive warrior Clare (@becomingbodypositive) who mentioned in her own Insta Live that she packs The Beauty Myth or other books on her own trips. I happened to have a book of poetry called Salt. with me at the beach, in which the perception of beauty is a major theme. I don't necessarily think your pool reads need to be intense body-related books, but bringing something that isn't a copy of a magazine with photoshopped models is definitely a good start. Any book that portrays women as strong and more than their bodies is a good one to have along in your beach bag, just in case you need to dive in for a quick distraction.
4. If you find yourself feeling anxious about how you look, observe the women around you and how few f@#%s they give about their bodies (or yours).
As I began to take my skirt off at the beach, revealing my swimsuit and body underneath, I felt vulnerable and exposed. That is, until I looked around and saw not a single person looking at me. The women around me were playing in the water with their children, laughing with friends, and reading books in the sunshine. And not one of them had a body without perceived imperfections. These women were out here living their lives, wearing swimsuits, and definitely not giving a damn what I looked like in mine. That was so empowering to me. If you start feeling anxious or filled with dread, look around and appreciate the bodies around you. Find your own "problem areas" on other people and see how normal and beautiful they are. Treat yourself with the same awe and kindness.
I'm curious how you stay body positive on vacation! Tell me where you're headed (or where you've been already) this summer and how you kept yourself in a body happy mindset!