Fun in the Sun

The Beach-Body Myth Keeps Us Confused, Dissatisfied, and Unhealthy—Exactly How They Want Us

Your body is not welcome on this beach.

Oh, I’m sorry, you’re not welcome here. We only allow beach-ready bodies at this beach. Have you not been paying attention over the last month or two? We’ve been talking about this for weeks, didn’t you realize that summer is approaching?

What’s that? Oh you tried the Fat-Blasting, Belly-Sculpting workout? And it didn’t work? Oh, haha, I get it now, that’s cute. You thought these things would actually help you get ready for the beach. No, you don’t understand, they worked exactly like they’re supposed to, but they won’t get you onto this beach.

You seem nice, so I’m going to let you in on a little secret. None of those quick-fix things work, at least, they don’t quickly fix anything. You’ve probably heard some of these: Got a wedding coming up? Better try this pill. A high school reunion? Get thee to a Soulcycle! Perhaps a hot date next week? Let’s see what Dr. Oz has for you today, maybe some kidney bean extract.

Yes, I know that we said that your belly flab would melt off, that you would get beach-ready abs in 4 weeks, that you could lose 10 lbs in 10 days, and please understand, we’re going to keep saying these things despite the complete lack of evidence that any of them actually work.

Here’s the thing: You’ll probably never have those beach-ready abs, and no, you’ll never be welcome at this beach.

Oh no! Wipe those tears away!

Here, this will make you feel better. Look at this delicious bacon sandwich, we’ve replaced the bread with juicy, fried chicken. Good, right? There, see? Feeling better? Ha ha, great, now here’s a sweet treat to wash it down: Java-mochaccino with extra whipped cream. Mmm, yes, exactly what you were craving

OH MY GOD WHAT ARE YOU DOING WHY ARE YOU EATING THAT CRAP NOW YOU’LL NEVER BE ABLE TO GO TO THE BEACH. LOOK AT THESE PICTURES OF THESE BEACH PEOPLE; DO YOU THINK THEY’RE AS DISGUSTING AND IRRESPONSIBLE AS YOU? OF COURSE THEY’RE NOT, YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED FOR BEING SO WEAK-WILLED.

Ok, let’s just calm down. I’m here to help. Let’s start with this master cleanse. It will help rid your body of all the terrible things you just did to it by eating that horrible sandwich and consuming all those calories that are going to kill you. The nice thing about this cleanse is that it’s only like 15 calories, so it’s almost like you’re not eating anything at all. Awesome! Plus it gets rid of toxins.

What toxins? Oh, you know, the toxins that you’re getting from processed foods. Processed foods are the worst and they’re going to kill you. So you should only ‘eat clean,’ but whole foods apparently don’t provide all the nutrients you need so make sure to take these processed all-natural supplements. Too much meat will also kill you. You should be eating more meat.

Ok, now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s get down to business. If you’re ever going to get to the beach we need some serious commitment and sacrifice. Let’s find you a personal trainer. It’s just like the Biggest Loser! Have you seen how much weight those people lose? It’s so inspiring. (And let’s just ignore the fact that their bodies will fight them for the rest of their lives trying to regain what they’ve lost.) Alright, this guy’s going to really kick your ass, it’s going to be amazing. Have fun at your workout!

Oh.

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Oh My.

Please, just stop. You are really bad at this. It’s embarrassing, really. You look terrible, nothing like the people in this fitness magazine. And all that sweat? Sweat is unattractive. And—oh, gross! At least hold your hair back! Ew, look, you got some puke in your hair, that’s disgusting.

You’re disgusting.

But hey, you really put yourself out there, good for you. Strong is the new skinny, you know! You go, girl! (Just be careful that you don’t get too muscular)

Ok, now it’s time to recover. If you don’t recover, that whole workout will have been for nothing. I like to start the recovery with coconut water. It’s really hydrating. Coconut water is like natural Gatorade. Gatorade is important because it hydrates you and will make you play sports better, but you shouldn’t drink it because it’s not natural and is just sugar water and will kill you, so instead you should drink coconut water. It’s more expensive, but it’s worth it because it’s so hydrating and natural. Oh, and if you want to be really healthy and natural and hydrated you should drink this WTRMLN WTR. It’s literally water from a watermelon, but without the vowels and it costs three dollars so you know it’s natural and really hydrating.

Alright! So you’ve cleansed and hydrated and detoxified and worked out and you even threw up, so that probably got rid of several hundred calories right there! This is going great! Let’s celebrate.

Lookie what I have here… Oh man, I love cheesecake. And it’s totally ok because you just worked out.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU WHAT ARE YOU DOING DON’T YOU REALIZE OUR ANCESTORS NEVER ATE CHEESECAKE? YOU CAN’T EAT THAT.

Oh, oh, now you’re crying again.

It’s ok. You don’t like to exercise? Not to worry. Here, take this plastic wrap with our very special chemical on it, and put it on those gross flabby parts of your body that we’re always pointing out. Now do nothing. It works.

Does this mean you can go to the beach now? Ha ha! Heavens no! The beach is not a place for you, remember? You need a beach-ready body. You do not have a beach-ready body. What about all those people who are on the beach? Well, some of them are really committed, and have earned their beach bodies. And now that I think of it, if they can do it, then so can you.

So, you have no excuses. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t grow up exercising or being physically active. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have enough time or money to really invest to learn how to undo the effects of decades of physical inactivity and poor eating. It doesn’t matter that we have done everything in our power to encourage poor eating and discourage physical activity. It doesn’t matter that we have poured billions of dollars into shaping your eating habits before you even understood what a calorie was. It doesn’t matter that dieting and exercising are unnatural activities that go against your deepest instincts. It doesn’t matter that you have a full-time job and several kids to raise. No excuses.

The people on our beach clearly bought all of the right products, followed all of the right fitness advice, and wore all of the right workout clothes. Oh, you did too? Huh. Nope, still not getting in. Here, just have a seat and sip on this 32-ounce soda while you fill out this form. It will get you locked in for our early-bird price specials on blood pressure medication and dialysis. I’m afraid you’re going to need a lot of expensive health care later in life after treating your body that way.

Confused?

Perfect.

You’ll never be good enough for this beach.

But you should never, ever stop trying. And that’s exactly how we like you. To us, you’re perfect.