In light of summer, it’s not uncommon to see public pools fill up with teenagers desperate to get a tan. It’s also not hard to notice the increasing smaller size of bathing suits being made for women. Bikinis barely provide covering to the necessary areas and leave women feeling naked and exposed.
Several girls will avoid going swimming because of the way they perceive their bodies. Bathing suit models are plastered on walls everywhere, showcasing a flat stomach and large thigh gap instead of a more realistic body type. By constantly parading around these “ideal women”, girls across the world are learning to view themselves poorly if they don’t fit the “pretty mold”.
In a 1997, a study by social psychologists Barbara Fredrickson and Tomi-Ann Roberts proved the objectification theory which explains the high value women place on their appearance. In the study the psychologists instructed some women to try on a bathing suit and others to try on a sweater. The women who tried on the bathing suit performed worse on a math test because they were preoccupied with their appearance and lost a lot of confidence. Then, the study continued by performing the same experiment on men and discovered it did not have the same effect.
Social norms have told women to objectify themselves and base their value as a person on the mere status of their body. It is important, especially during the warmer months when less clothing is often worn, to not let societal expectations dictate how you feel about yourself. Bathing suit companies should recognize the damage they are inciting on their customers and the community and integrate more modest clothing without the stigma. One-piece swimsuits and tankinis are not for “fat girls” and are just as attractive as a tiny bikini.
It’s important to realize thighs jiggle, stomachs roll, and hair grows everywhere. Our bodies are built the way they are for a reason and we shouldn’t change them.
As a society we must stand against the profiling of women as objects and relearn how to value ourselves based on personality, not appearance.