Once upon a time, summer used to be about self-hatred. Magazines told women how they could get the perfect ‘bikini body’, and made them feel guilty if they were not a toned size 8 with a flat stomach. Celebrities posted photos looking impossibly flawless on the beach (Why doesn’t their suncream give them that unattractive white glow? Why isn’t their hair stuck to their face with sweat?) making mere mortals wonder why their selfies didn’t look like they belonged on a magazine cover.
Adverts joined in. They showed women that if they bought their expensive and unnecessary products, they too could look like Victoria’s Secret models. Most memorable, Protein World asked women in 2015 if they were “beach body ready” causing widespread outrage and feminists to deface posters on the London Underground.
But whether women wanted to follow the rules or not, they were painfully aware of what an ‘appropriate’ summer body looked like: no cellulite, no thigh gap, no thunder thighs, no bat wings, no calories and no fun.
Until 2017. This year, after a growing backlash from women across the world who are sick of being told to change their bodies for summer, the pressure has finally gone. Instead, women are embracing their bodies as they are.
This revolutionary concept has already gone viral. Miss Eaves, the singer known Shanthony Exum, has released a new song from her upcoming album Feminasty, called Thunder Thighs.
It is, in all its glorious thigh-slapping cellulite-loving colour, a witty ode in favour of “chub rub, thick thighs, thunder thighs.” Uploaded onto YouTube two days ago, it has already had more than 200,000 views with women calling it their summer anthem.
The reason for its success is simple: for once, women have a hip hop video that doesn’t show them gyrating in bikinis at a pool party.
Instead, it depicts women of different shapes, sizes and colours showing off their perfectly normal bodies in tiny shorts, skirts and mum jeans as they stroll around Brooklyn, New York. It”s done humorously but the message is one that women have long been waiting to hear.
But Miss Eaves isn’t the only one championing the positive summer body movement.
On Instagram, women have started sharing photos of their belly outlines – the shape of their rounded tummy, visible in tight clothing or a bikini.
“Bellies are cute and worth showing off,” wrote one woman who showed off hers on her SelfLoveClub account. “Cheers to a summer of rocking clothing that give you a visible tummy outline. Cheers to embracing what we’ve been told not to wear because it doesn’t ‘flatter our body type.’”
Another, bodyposipanda, wrote: “Is it just me, or is it kind of cute to have a dress that frames the feature you once hated the most and now celebrate as beautifully soft? I never even thought I would dare to wear a bodycon dress without having washboard abs first, let alone choose one that emphasises my tummy!”
These are two different dresses – I ordered two because I knew the pattern would change slightly depending on the cut of the fabric, and me being me, I wanted as many flowers as possible 😂🌸 · · After trying them both on, I noticed one big difference: because of the pattern and colouring of the dress on the left, my stomach almost looks as if it's being framed. The one on the right disguises it. Is it just me, or is it kind of cute to have a dress that frames the feature you once hated the most and now celebrate as beautifully soft? I never even thought I would dare to wear a bodycon dress without having washboard abs first, let alone choose one that emphasises my tummy! So which one do you guys think I should keep?! 💜💙💚🌈🌞 P.s. the dress is ASOS ✨
Telegraph columnist Bryony Gordon has joined the movement, posting a video of herself online.
“This body ran a marathon a month ago,” she wrote. “Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Photoshop! #effyourbeautystandards.”
HI THERE NEW FOLLOWERS! @mother_of_daughters v kindly recommended me as someone who is body positive (is that the phrase?) and every time she mentions me I get like 1000 extra followers and my book climbs up the Amazon charts. That girl has POWER. Anyway, I thought I'd welcome you all with a wobbly #boomerang that I asked our gay manny to take just now (he's awesome, I really need to tell you more about him some time). I usually wobble around naked at home but that embarrasses even my husband so I'll spare you that sight (I also don't want to get banned from Instagram. Oh and I don't usually take my clothes off in front of the manny.) This body ran a marathon a month ago. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Photoshop! Anyway hi. Promise this won't become a thing. #effyourbeautystandards #didimentioniranamarathon? #runnersofinstagram #mentalhealth #wobbly #mumtum #tummy #mumsofinstagram
Celebrities are also taking part – in their own way. Rihanna has recently been scrutinised for her figure, with people saying she has put on weight. She hit back with an Instagram post showing hip hop artist Gucci Mane with a protruding belly back in 2007, and a photo of him looking toned in 2017.
“If you can’t handle me at my 2007 Gucci Mane, You don’t deserve me at my 2017 Gucci Mane,” it read.
Halle Berry has also found her body shape scrutinised recently, with people suggesting that she was pregnant. She responded on Instagram with a selfie captioned: “Can a girl have some steak and fries?”
When even celebrities – many of whom have to trade on their looks – are sick of the constant expectation to look a certain way, it’s probably time to ditch the narrow, outdated idea of what an ‘ideal bikini body’ should look like.
So in 2017, we should start enjoying our figures just as they are. As Miss Eaves sings, “Thick thighs, sundress? I’m looking good.”