Disturbing winter body trend on rise. Picture: Instagram / Edwina Carr Baraclough
Disturbing winter body trend on rise. Picture: Instagram / Edwina Carr Baraclough

Six words we should ban in winter

It's a phrase as common in winter as puffer jackets: "summer bodies are made in winter".

In the past two and a half months, it feels like I've been confronted by it at every turn.

Articles implore me to spend the cold season working out to ensure I emerge a taut, terrific goddess come September.

Influencers remind me of how great I'll feel (read: look in a bikini) come spring if I don't inhale chocolate.

Memes that poke fun at how much weight we'll all have gained once we're released from winter's grip circulate at a highly infectious rate.

There’s a disturbing winter body trend that women are falling victim to, says Edwina Carr Baraclough. Picture: Instagram / Edwina Carr Baraclough
There’s a disturbing winter body trend that women are falling victim to, says Edwina Carr Baraclough. Picture: Instagram / Edwina Carr Baraclough

However it's delivered the message remains the same: in order to be more worthy, loveable, desirable and beautiful, our bodies need to change.

On the surface it might appear as benign and unoriginal marketing lingo, but scratch a little deeper and it's clear the missive directed at women is both antiquated and dangerous.

Louise Adams, clinical psychologist and founder of the anti-diet program Untrapped, says the phrase "summer bodies are made in winter" only serves to normalise the pernicious "pursuit of thinness no matter what".

"This idea that bodies are able to be 'made' or 'sculpted' reinforces the incorrect idea that we can remodel our bodies as if they are home renovations but the truth is, our weight is tightly controlled by factors beyond our individual willpower," Louise tells news.com.au

"The only people who are served by these messages are the industries selling weight cycling products. Meanwhile, many of us are suffering with weight and appearance preoccupation, and even developing eating disorders, and this has a huge detrimental impact on our overall quality of life and mental health."

Louise Adams, psychologist an founder of anti-diet program Untrapped, says the phrase was made by industries selling weight loss products. Picture: Untrapped
Louise Adams, psychologist an founder of anti-diet program Untrapped, says the phrase was made by industries selling weight loss products. Picture: Untrapped

Chelsea Bonner, author of Body Image Warrior and founder of 'plus size' (for want of a better term) modelling agency Bella Management, says the "summer bodies are made in winter" sentiment can be deeply troubling for women with existing body image issues.

"It's an emotional trigger tactic used by the weight loss and diet industry the world over and is about selling you products that you don't need," Chelsea tells news.com.au

"If you can't advertise alcohol and cigarettes then weight loss products should also be on the list. These ads are as physically and emotionally damaging health wise."

According to The Butterfly Foundation, more than one million Australians are currently experiencing an eating disorder and a 2016 study by Dove discovered 89 per cent of Aussie women go as far as to cancel their plans based on how they feel they look that day.

Chelsea Bonner said the message can be deeply troubling for women with existing body image issues. Picture: Instagram / Chelsea Bonner
Chelsea Bonner said the message can be deeply troubling for women with existing body image issues. Picture: Instagram / Chelsea Bonner

An entrenched struggle with body image can make it excessively difficult for many to develop an immunity to marketing that preys on our insecurities.

If you, too, feel as though you have whiplash from the sheer volume of "Quick! Change your body before it's bikini season" messages, Louise says it's key to remember your body isn't a "work in progress" or a "before" shot.

In fact it's perfectly wonderful as is, thank you very much.

"This is your physical home, not a commodity for others to judge. Whenever you hear a message about summer or winter bodies, be aware that you're being sold a product, and the people who sell this product are using fear and a sense of inadequacy or comparison to some other body as a means of getting your money," Louise says.

According to The Butterfly Foundation, more than one million Australians are currently experiencing an eating disorder. Picture: istock
According to The Butterfly Foundation, more than one million Australians are currently experiencing an eating disorder. Picture: istock

"Be ruthless when it comes to your social media - go through everything you are following and get rid of anything that makes you feel like your body is not good enough. Do not be afraid to report and block ads which sell this idea - report them as 'offensive', or 'misleading scams'."

Next time an advertisement for a six-week bikini body bootcamp, or diet supplement, rudely charges into your orbit, see it for what it is - an attempt to shame you into parting with your money and self-worth. Winter, summer, autumn or spring - your body is just fine the way it is.

Now where's that chocolate?

Edwina Carr Barraclough is a writer and editor, you can follow her on Instagram

Originally published as Six words we should ban in winter


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