In just 7 short days, me, my sweat mustache, and my charming cankles will be at a lake house, wearing a SWIMSUIT in front of BOYS. I haven't worn a swimsuit since I was 8 and looked suspiciously like a boy myself (photographic evidence HERE), and believe me, if splashing about in a velour sweatsuit was an option, I would make like P.Diddy and rock that shizz. But alas, I'm much too susceptible to heatstroke to be frolicking around 100% humidity in head-to-toe polyester, and so I must bravely face one of my greatest fears: exposing my pasty, rather out-of-shape self to the PUBLIC EYE.
The entire situation terrifies me, and I'm currently trying to do 500 emergency crunches while holding my laptop aloft above my enormous perspiring forehead. But despite the fact that I'm shaped like a potato, and despite the fact that I failed three consecutive swim tests because I refused to change out of my gym shorts, and despite the fact that the thought of my guy friends seeing me in spandex underwear is UTTERLY MORTIFYING, I've made a decision: I'm not going to let my insecurities get the best of me, and NEITHER ARE YOU. (Did that sound like a threat? GOOD. IT WAS.)
Everyone—yep, everyone, even goddess and girl crush extraordinaire Jennifer Lawrence—feels like they have flaws. But whether you're shy about bacne, your pale complexion, or a flubby tummy (or all three, like lucky me!), there's something you should know: NO ONE ELSE NOTICES THESE THINGS. If you show up with a big grin, a great attitude, and a boatload of confidence (fake it 'til ya make it, Sparkdarlings!), all people will see is your fantastic personality and your impressive wealth of Harry Potter knowledge (I will go toe-to-toe with any one of you on HP trivia. DON'T PUSH ME.). So quit stressing and start smiling—then check out these five tips for boosting your body confidence through the ROOF.
1. Find a flattering swimsuit! The first thing I did when I found out I would soon be showing off my legs and abs (which nary see the light of day) was dry-heave uncontrollably, and then start browsing shops for a suit that would play up all my best features while disguising the ones I'm less amped about. This one comes in my favorite color (cobalt blue for the win!) and has slimming contrast panels on the side and ruching over the tummy to cover up any bumps or lumps. For days when I'm feeling a bit more sassy, this suit features a bejeweled bust and is available in a vibrant emerald color, which will look great with my green eyes and fair skin. BUT IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT ME; when you're suit-shopping, look for items that highlight what you're happiest with (your long legs, your toned arms, or your spectacular shins) and hide your "trouble spots." Details like contrast panels, ruching, added bust support, and flattering patterns will guarantee that you look great no matter your size!
2. Choose a cute cover-up! The best thing about bathing suits is NOTHING, and also that they're so blessedly easy to layer under actual, substantial clothing. When you're hangin' by the pool catching up on some fun summer reading and covertly sneaking glances at your crush, Swedish Foreign Exchange Student Kurt, you can toss on a breezy sundress, cotton mini, flowy sarong, causal maxi, or sporty tank top and shorts until you're ready to cannonball into the water again.
3. Eat smart! I'll be the first to admit that there's nothing I love better in the world than a double-bacon cheeseburger (unless it's a double-bacon cheeseburger with pancakes for buns). But I've learned that eating cheeseburgers every single day isn't exactly conducive to having chiseled abs of steel (or even any abs at all). So I try to balance out my favorite splurges (dinosaur-shaped buffalo chicken nuggets, ice cream sundaes sprinkled with french fries, THE LIST GOES ON) with more nutritious options, like strawberries, almonds, and eggs for breakfast, a big 'ol salad (light on the dressing and heavy on the greens) for lunch, and lean protein (like grilled chicken or salmon) and veggies for dinner, plus something sweet for dessert (like a 60-calorie pudding cup with a few HEARTY sprays of whip cream).
I've realized that the healthier I eat, the better I feel; I have more energy, my skin looks clearer and brighter, and my clothes are less snug. Plus, there are loads of healthy foods that make fantastic snacks: apple slices with peanut butter, string cheese, baby carrots and hummus, raspberries and blueberries—you can chow down on this natural, vitamin-and-protein-packed stuff between meals to feel full without feeling guilty! So when you find yourself reaching for your 18th handful of Cheetos (hey man, we've all been there), consider skipping over to the fridge and grabbing a banana or some celery instead—and next time you need to slip into a swimsuit or put on a skin-baring summer dress, you and your waistline will be totally ready!
4. Get SWEATY. Ever heard of endorphins, butts? They're these magic things that flow through your body after you exercise, making you delirious with glee. (That explanation may not be entirely accurate, but dammit man, I'm a Sparkitor, not a scientist!) Exercise can seem like a miserable, soul-sucking experience, but it doesn't have to be as impossible as summiting Mount Everest or jogging .8 miles (both tasks are equally difficult in my eyes). Find an activity you don't totally hate—like dancing to Taylor Swift songs, playing volleyball in the park, beating everybody's dress robes off in Quidditch, or speed-walking around your cul-de-sac while singing showtunes at the top of your lungs—and try to do it for 30 minutes at least 3 times a week. Any kind of cardio is great for your metabolism, and if you stick with it, you'll see a difference in your body in no time! Your arms and abs will be more toned, your endurance will increase, and you'll feel stronger and happier (just don't forget to pile on the deodorant, pal).
5. Work that body, work that body, make sure you don't hurt nobody. Is there any statement more profound than the immortal lyrics of the Space Jam theme song? NEGATORY. It doesn't matter if you're a size 0 or a size 22; if you're confident, you'll always look UH-MAZING. So wear what makes you feel beautiful, work in some leafy greens and dance parties every now and then, and show off that brilliant, sparkling personality of yours—soon, Swedish Foreign Exchange Student Kurt will be putty in your hands.
Do you have any tips for battling body insecurities during the summertime? How about tips for keeping fit and eating healthy? WE WANT 'EM ALL!