Why the term ‘Summer Body’ is toxic

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Why the term ‘Summer Body’ is toxic

By Rhian Cowburn (Studio Founder)

Gyms and fitness studios need to stop using the term ‘Summer Body’

It’s that time of year when gyms and fitness studios will start selling ‘plans’; Summer Body, Beach Body, Bikini Body ready and so on. It’s important to recognise that this isn’t just a cheap marketing ploy, it has the potential to be deeply harmful, both physically and mentally.

The suggestion that the enjoyment of the summer months (and the need to stay cool in potentially smaller clothes) is somehow reserved for those who’ve ‘worked to improve’ their body is harmful.

‘Summer Body’ plans encourage harmful habits

The concept of needing to look a certain way (almost always thinner) suggests that weight is entirely in a person’s control, and those not changing it are simply not trying hard enough. A summer body plan is just like any other diet – it encourages harmful eating and exercise habits that are unsustainable long term.

‘Summer Body’ teminology reinforces weight stigma

To quote Fitness Professionals against Weight Stigma: “Weight stigma refers to the social rejection and devaluation that occurs to people who do not conform to the thin ideal, which is positioned as a marker of health, happiness and success. It is a widespread and persistent form of oppression”.

If a gym is selling you a ‘summer body plan’ not only are they selling something that’s potentially harmful to you and your mental health, they’re also selling something that reinforces the marginalisation and oppression of those in larger bodies.