How Summer Body Pressure Affects Your Mental Health

WRITTEN BY: Craig Sturgill


When beach season approaches, magazines and social media posts often mention having a summer body. You may even see workout routines and diet tips that promise to help you slim down for summer. Are you feeling pressured to have the perfect body this season? Let’s examine what a summer body is and how it affects normal, everyday people.

What is a summer body?

A summer body refers to a person whose physical appearance is acceptable for the beach and other hot-weather activities. It’s the idea that you must be in shape or look certain to wear swimsuits and other skin-showing clothing during the summer. 

You may see the term summer body used during winter and spring to remind us that we must prepare our bodies to look a certain way. The phrase generally conjures the idea of a fit, tan body with an hourglass figure. 

History of the term

While the phenomenon of a summer body might seem new, it isn’t. It’s also known as a bikini body, and this popular phrase dates back to 1961. Diet experts credit weight-loss brand Slenderella International with coining the term. The catchphrase appeared in other advertisements and then became commonplace in the 1980s. Now this phrase appears in various magazines and advertisements each year.

Who typically feels pressure to have a summer body, and why?

Women typically feel pressure to have a summer body. The average American woman is between size 16 and 18, but the images of “beach-ready” bodies often feature smaller waistlines. 

However, anyone who suffers from poor body image can feel pressure over needing a summer body. Lately, the problem affects more individuals. The pandemic and its lockdowns changed our daily routines, causing us to indulge in comfort food or stress eat.

A survey from Personality and Individual Differences shows individuals with anxiety had a higher likelihood of developing body image issues during the pandemic. This phenomenon appears in both men and women. 

If this is you, consider talking to a health professional about your feelings. Often, mental health visits are available as telehealth services.

Are men or women more likely to be affected by this pressure?

Women and men both struggle with body image problems.  While women may feel pressure to have an hourglass figure, men may be pressured to be muscular with six-pack abs. Body image problems don’t discriminate by sex.

For some men, there’s a stigma around talking about body image and mental health. Men’s inability to voice body image issues reduces the chance of accurate data. A UK study found that 48% of men aged 16 to 40 struggled with appearance. The same study shows that 21% of respondents don’t feel comfortable about their body image.  

Are younger or older people more likely to feel summer body pressure?

While anyone can feel pressure to look summer-ready, studies show individuals aged 25 and under-report the most anxiety over it. One survey finds that 78% of Gen Z respondents feel pressure, and 26% said they feel anxious about how their bodies look. 

How to cope with the pressure of needing a summer body

Anxiety over your appearance is common, but ways to work through it exist. You should focus on your interior self. Think about all of your best qualities and celebrate your achievements. When you feel down about your body, focus on your body’s resilience instead. Acknowledge how it lets you run around with your kids or enjoy a night walking around on vacation. 

It’s hard to escape the pressure of a perfect body for summer. If the summer body posts and ads trigger you, avoid them. Cultivate what makes you happy and look away from what doesn’t. No matter what, remember that you’re worthy and more than how you look. 


What is a summer body?

A summer body is a body that looks fit and thin in summer outfits, such as swimsuits or sundresses. It’s a common term used in advertising and social media posts. 

How can I get a summer body in 3 months?

The best way to get a summer body quickly is to watch your diet and work out regularly. The best exercise routines are full-body workouts with varying weight levels. Before beginning any intense workout regimen, talk to your doctor.

Should I worry about getting my body ready for summer?

No. You don’t need to worry about getting your body ready for summer. You should enjoy your summer without worrying about how you look. Focus on moving your body to make you happy, such as with yoga or dancing. Your body is ready for all seasons just as it is. 

Is it healthy to try to get a “summer body” quickly?

It’s never healthy to transform your body quickly in a matter of weeks. True weight loss is a process that takes time and discipline. If you want to change how you look, talk to a doctor and nutritionist about your goals. Experts can help you find a healthy and reasonable plan. Above all, focus on healthy habits and small steps.

Crash diets and calorie restrictions aren’t good for our bodies. Going on a crash diet can slow your metabolism. When your body doesn’t get enough calories, you may burn muscle instead of fat.

What’s a good diet for a summer body?

Eating healthily is the best diet for a summer body. Focus on fresh fruits, vegetables, and protein. You may want to speak to a nutritionist or personal trainer about your goals.

Find health insurance with mental health coverage

If you feel pressure to have a summer body, you aren’t alone. The pressure for a perfect body for the summertime arrives each spring. While some people can ignore the messages of needing a beach-ready body, others struggle with negative body image.

If you’re struggling with feelings of depression, self-harm, or have a negative body image, consider discussing your mental health with your doctor. If you’re ready to talk to your doctor, ensure you have good health coverage for your visits.

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