In my personal recovery journey, I have found that the season when ED tries to rear its ugly head with gusto is during the summer. While the saying, “Hot Girl Summer” is fairly new, the concept behind it has pressured individuals to live up to this summer standard for decades. For me, the messaging always made me feel as if I could not have a good summer unless I was a “hot girl” – unless I achieved whatever ideal body type was popular that year. It drove me to punish myself all summer instead of enjoying the outdoors.
It took me a long time to finally get to a place of neutrality. Now that I am here, summer does not bring with it the pressure to attain a certain physical appearance. I am able to enjoy being outdoors with my two dogs and my partner, wear a bathing suit that I like, and feel comfortable in shorts and a tank top in the humid Midwest summers.
The position I am in now did not happen overnight and ED still tries to enter the space when my triggers are present, but I have put in place some tools to help me through the summer. Things that I have found helpful in this season include tactics such as:
- Surrounding myself with other individuals who prioritize body neutrality and positivity over trying to meet the expectations laid out by “Hot Girl Summer”.
- Continuing to attend individual therapy sessions and adding group sessions into the mix to gain that additional support from others trying to maintain recovery.
- Making members of my support team aware of times when I am stressed and notice ED becoming louder. I have communicated to them ways in which they can best support me during these times.
As people in recovery, we can enjoy hot summer days without the pressure to live up to “Hot Girl Summer”. We can wear a bathing suit because we want to, we can sport a tank top and shorts because it is hot, and we can do these things without having to look a certain way. Take time to evaluate how you can maintain recovery, or achieve recovery, despite the summer pressures.
Emily McCorkle is a writer, English teacher, and active mental health advocate. She currently lives in Bloomington with her husband, Trevor, and their two dogs, Bella and Bruttis. In 2016, Emily brought a NEDA walk to Fort Wayne, IN alongside Farrington Specialty Counseling. In 2018, Emily self-published her journey with anorexia nervosa in autobiographical form, “Fifteen Grapes”, to display the disorder in raw form to the public. The book is currently being used as a resource for parents at behavioral health centers in Indiana. She continues to bring awareness to eating disorders through community events, one-on-one interactions, and educational presentations.