How To Confront Swimsuit Anxiety From The Store To The Beach (You Got This)

It's no secret that swimsuit season can be challenging for many. But in a study published in the May 2012 issue of Sex Roles, Psychologist Marika Tiggemann and her colleagues found that even just imagining trying on a swimsuit is enough to send some women into a downward spiral. "The physical presence of observers is clearly not necessary," the researchers wrote. "More particularly, the dressing room of a clothing store contains a number of potentially objectifying features: (often several) mirrors, bright lighting, and the virtual demand that women engage in close evaluation of their body in evaluating how the clothes appear and fit." 


But that's not all. According to Tiggemann, thinking about wearing a swimsuit often leads to greater feelings of self-objectification — a term used to describe when someone views themselves as an object instead of a human being. "Self-objectification has a variety of negative consequences — always worrying about how you look, shame about the body, and [it] is linked to eating disorders and depression," Tiggemann penned in an email to LiveScience.

Alas, donning a swimsuit is a necessary evil for most — especially during the warmer months. Fortunately, there are many ways to confront swimsuit anxiety (from the store to the beach) head-on!

If you need help with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).


Make it fun

Swimsuit shopping should be fun! But how does one make such a task... dare we say... enjoyable? Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner encouraged SELF magazine readers to ensure they look the best on the day of said swimsuit shopping extravaganza. "If you consider trying on a bathing suit as a necessary evil, soften the experience," she advised. This can include doing your hair, putting on makeup, and performing any waxing, lasering, or shaving. You could even have your hair and makeup professionally done if that's what it takes! "Walk in that room with the advantage!" Baumgartner challenged prospective shoppers. 


But wait, there's more! Another way to make swimsuit shopping fun is to bring an entourage! The key, however, is to make sure that the people you surround yourself with are honest and supportive. The perfect hype girls will both steer you in the right direction and point out all of the reasons you should buy the swimsuit.

Shop online

Face it, online shopping is here to stay, and in the case of swimsuit shopping, that's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, many women prefer trying on bathing suits in the comfort and privacy of their own homes as opposed to in those dimly lit dressing rooms. "Try your swimsuits on at home, in good lighting, with real mirrors. Don't be thrown by the awful fluorescents in stores, and don't be fooled by tilted mirrors that warp your figure," stylist Samantha Brown cautioned InStyle readers. "If you don't love how you look in the swimsuit, it isn't the right style for you — at the end of the day, it has absolutely nothing to do with your body."


Alas, we all know sizing can be tricky — especially when it comes to swimsuits. According to swimwear designer Naomie Caron, the key to ordering the perfect swimsuit size every time is to consult the brand's sizing chart. Additionally, the brand's employees should be able to guide you through the process. "If it's a company that aligns with your values, they'll be easy to get in touch with," Caron told Chatelaine. And in the end, if the swimsuit doesn't fit for some reason, make sure the return policy allows you to send it back and exchange it for a different size. 

Love yourself

It could be argued, however, that the most important thing consumers can arm themselves with while confronting swimsuit anxiety is a whole lot of self-love! But how does one do that exactly? According to Lizzo, the reigning queen of body positivity, cultivating self-love, starts by redefining what beauty means to you. "I had to address every layer of insecurity because I can't just be like, 'Alright, my arm's not jiggly and lumpy anymore.' That's delusional. You have to be like, 'That's not ugly to me anymore and it's not wrong to me. It's beautiful to me,'" the rapper and singer explained during an appearance on the CBS show "Sunday Morning." 


But that's not all. Lizzo also advises her fans to change how they talk to themselves. "I started talking to my belly this year. Blowing her kisses and showering her with praises," Lizzo revealed to fans in the caption of an Instagram video in February 2021. "I used to want to cut my stomach off I hated it so much. But it's literally ME. I am learning to radically love every part of myself. Even if it means talking to myself every morning," she added. 

Quit comparing yourself to others

Comparison is the thief of joy — especially when it comes to swimsuit season. Sadly, however, almost everyone has been guilty of comparing themselves to others at one time or another. A study conducted by Florida House Experience revealed that an eye-opening 88% of women admitted to comparing their bodies to that of others they are exposed to in the media, whether on television, movies, or social media.


Unfortunately, the feelings of comparison are often exacerbated during the summer months. Still, The Comparison Coach, Lucy Sheridan, is adamant that there is a way to combat those feelings. "When these opportunities present themselves, remind yourself that you are sitting in a body someone else would love to have," she advised during an interview with Red Online. Ultimately, when we come from a place of gratitude, it makes it much harder to put ourselves down, especially in the name of others.

Weed your social media garden

Another way to stop the comparison game before it even starts is by limiting what you see on social media. In short: if scrolling away at various Instagram models' bikini pics (that may or may not be heavily photoshopped and airbrushed) makes you feel bad about yourself, stop. Make it a policy that you only follow real-life friends that you know or pause your social media activity for a while. "Take the break and see what happens," psychotherapist Melissa Duncan advised during an interview with Talkspace. "Suddenly, you have significantly less people to compare yourself to," she noted. 


On the contrary, flooding your feed with accounts invoking positive and confident feelings can also be a helpful practice. "Anything that makes you feel happy will make you feel better within," fitness influencer Katie Austin explained to Health readers. So go ahead and weed that social media garden and start following some body-positive influencers. In the end, you'll thank yourself for it!