Every single year, when the days become longer, hotter, and sweatier, they swarm our lives right in line with the mosquitos: the protein shakes. The calorie-deficit meal plans. The all-or-nothing workout routines. Influencers, fitness companies, and often our own loved ones attempt to sell us these as a way to spread the so-called gospel of the “summer body.” If we want to bear any additional skin as the weather gets warmer, we’re told not just that we should but that we must get “into shape” (read: thinner) and stay “in shape” all spring and summer long, as if to suggest that our enjoyment of and comfort during the season depends wholly on whether or not we’ve got tummy, buttock, and thigh to spare. And like all facets of diet culture, the phrase “summer body” (or “beach body” or “bikini body”) carries deeply harmful connotations — especially to fat people.
The Power of Plus, an online body-acceptance platform created by writers Shammara Lawrence and Gianluca Russo, has used its educational Instagram account to address this exact type of covert (and other not-so-covert) fatphobia for the past year. On July 19, the duo will relaunch with a slew of new resources. “In the coming months, we’ll be providing resources to help with mental health, size-inclusive practitioners, weight discrimination lawyers, and more,” Russo [teases] tells Allure exclusively. “Additionally, we’ll be launching a networking program within the plus-size community to connect several industry leaders in fashion and beauty with the next generation.”
You’ll be able to find all these resources through Power of Plus’s freshly-minted website and its Instagram, which features informational graphics on things like body-shaming versus systemic fatphobia and how to be a good ally to fat folks, plus body affirmations. The goal of all of it, Lawrence says, is to provide an unwavering community for plus-size people. “We want to be that support system for those in the plus community who may not have someone in their environment who will pour love into them and be like a big brother or sister who can point them in the right direction for the most chic clothes in their size,” she says. “There’s nothing like having a network of cheerleaders who are always there to offer nuggets of wisdom on important topics around being plus in a thin-first world.”
To celebrate the relaunch of Power of Plus, Russo and Lawrence are putting the dreaded phrase “summer body” on blast — and with good reason. “All the brands and magazines who push this summer body ideal — flat stomach, curves in the ‘right’ places, toned legs, flawless skin — are essentially saying is anyone who doesn’t fit that aforementioned mold isn’t worthy of being seen once the temperatures start rising, so we need to alter ourselves to live up to this narrow standard,” Lawrence explains. “I think it’s incredibly harmful to tell people year after year that they need to lose weight for the summer in order to have fun and get attention and praise from people for the way you look.”
Not only that, but the concept of a seasonal body encourages dangerous nutrition and exercise habits. “Because of the pressure to reach this often-unattainable ideal within only a few months, many resort to unhealthy practices to get there, potentially falling into disordered eating patterns and worse,” Russo adds. “The ‘summer body‘ does not promote real health, rather, it is a marketing ploy used by brands, gyms, and the diet industry to profit off of your insecurities.”