As July comes to an end, I invite you to think about how many times you’ve had a negative thought about your body pop into your mind this summer. If you’re like many Americans, whose minds and eyes are saturated by messages of physical perfection, you may have had more negative thoughts than you can count. Even if you think of yourself as someone with a healthy body image, you may still have had a little twinge of anxiety about putting on a bathing suit and baring it all to your fellow beach goers.
Well this summer, local radio personality Cassie Young, the social media director of Q100’s The Bert Show, wants you to stop worrying. Even more than that, she wants you to consciously start changing those negative thoughts into positive ones by posting a photo of yourself in a bathing suit on social media with the hashtag #SuitYourself. This social media campaign began last year, and Cassie’s continuing its positive message through this summer. I spoke with her recently about the initiative, and her passion was clear. “We’re our own harshest critics, and we see ourselves through a really critical lens. You feel like you have to live up to those Photoshop ideals,” she says. Instead of stressing about it, she says, “The point is to be happy with who you are and what you have.” To do that, everyone is encouraged to post their unfiltered #SuitYourself images along with a statement of something you love about yourself.
Self-love and self-acceptance weren’t always easy for her, Cassie admits as she recalls a memory from fifth grade. “I remember putting on a pair of jeans at the Gap, and they were size 5 – I think they were a kids’ size. I was so happy, and I remember going into class the next day and talking about that. Then the really pretty, really popular, gorgeous girl in my class goes, ‘Ugh, you’re a size five? I am a zero.’ That’s when I went on the scale, and I swore I would never get above a hundred pounds. I started counting calories, and then I would hate myself if I ate something like a chili cheeseburger – if I lived a normal life, I would feel awful about myself.”
Her story sounds familiar to many of us, but through #SuitYourself, we can start to refocus our attention on acceptance and positivity toward food and toward our own bodies. Cassie reminds us, “Just straight up who you are is perfect. Everyone is different, and that’s what makes humanity so interesting.” And with that truth in mind, she encourages everyone to join this social media campaign and start embracing themselves just as they are.