CW: anxiety, weight issues
Within minutes of Johnson’s announcement of Britain’s roadmap out of quarantine, phones lit up with memes celebrating the long-awaited return of the sesh, as people were ecstatic at the promise of a normal summer. Instant streams of people planning their next festival outfits, beer garden hangs and boozy picnics ensued. But a darker sense of panic lurks underneath all this buzz created by these memes.
Just a quick scroll through these memes reveals the general concern that we only have four months to “get ready for summer,” and no, this does not refer to getting Covid secure and vaccinated. Nor does it refer to mentally preparing for a sudden return to socialising en masse, and rubbing shoulders with friends we have quite literally kept at arm’s length for so long. Instead, the brunt of these jokes seems to be “lockdown weight gain,” with people cutting down in order to get their dream “summer bodies.”
The idea of a “hot girl summer” is nothing new, but it is incredibly sad that we immediately jump to self-deprecating thoughts about how we have let ourselves go, and haven’t ‘achieved’ enough in order to go back out into the world. Insensitive memes about doing ‘ice diets’ until June have been
shared left, right, and centre, coupled with a sarcastic thank you to the government for the extended notice to get ‘hot’ in time. It’s supposedly intended as a joke, but it’s simply not banter: it’s fatphobic
Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting to look and feel great. You bet that after a year of slobbing about in leggings and slides, I shall be exclusively wearing festival attire the second the sun comes out.
But before you reach for the scales, ask yourself: whose version of great are you aspiring after? Yours, or diet culture’s?
This anxiety to leave lockdown as a “better” you ties into the toxic goal-setting that has been a definitive part of the pandemic. How many times have you felt the need to reinvent yourself during lockdown? That you weren’t being “productive” or “busy” enough? Clearly, underneath the memes of double-chinned Barbie, lies the misguided message that there is a singular, right way to have done lockdown.
It is so important to note that we are not defined by our lockdown achievements or failures, whether they be academic, financial, fitness, or weight loss related. Just as we struggled to adjust to the sudden slowing of life, we will struggle to return to a fuller, more jam-packed life.
So it’s time to consider what we really want our postlockdown lives to look like. There is such enormous potential for growth, but internalising this and treating 21 June like a deadline to be met is totally unattainable.
Imagine how much good could come out of switching the 21June narrative. To stop treating it as a deadline for us to ‘get it together.’ We all should feel safe and comfortable with stepping outside our homes before we start stressing about appearances and achievements.That getting “ready” for summer meant prioritising mental health and your needs over slimming down into a bikini.