Most people count down the days until they can hit the beach with breathless anticipation. But for many women, the idea of baring all in a bikini or one-piece suit is nerve-racking.

A swimsuit means that your body, and all your perceived imperfections, are exposed for all the world to see. And it can be challenging to feel comfortable in that environment, especially when judged against the standard of models that appear in magazines looking seemingly perfect.

More often than not, these perceived flaws are not as bad as we make them out to be. And often the problem is more our attitude toward our bodies than our bodies themselves.

Before you hit the beach this weekend, be sure to give yourself a boost with these affirmations:

Love your body.

You may have more hips than breasts or your feet may not be model-worthy but try not to obsess over things you cannot change. Find a bathing suit that accentuates what you love most about your shape. And forget about the rest. When you stop focusing on a perceived flaw, you’ll embrace the beautiful things about your body that actually deserve your attention.

Be sexy for you.

Sure there are a flood of men at the beach dying to see some skin but your look isn’t about their approval or attention. It’s about you. Flaunt your curves only because you enjoy looking your best—and you won’t be concerned with whether guys flock to you or not.

Don’t compare yourself to others.

It’s not surprising that when a beautiful lady walks by a group of women on the beach, she’s often met with snide remarks, snares and eyerolls. Sizing up the competition is nothing new and we seem to be more competitive when we’re not feeling our most secure. Challenge yourself not to compare or compete with the women around you. The minute we covet what someone else has, we stop celebrating the uniquely wonderful things about ourselves. And acknowledging that another woman looks great won’t take away from our own beauty.

Be responsible.

Wearing a cute swimsuit is only the first step. Be good to your body inside and out by using sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. What’s the point of looking beautiful for the moment if you’re damaging your skin in the long run? Be just as proactive about your look as you are about your health.

Enjoy yourself.

There are few things more relaxing and invigorating than a day at the beach being enveloped in sunshine, feeling the sand between your toes and lulling yourself to sleep to the sounds of the ocean.  If you spend the whole time worried that everyone is judging your perceived flaws, you’ll miss it all. Relax, take a breath, close your eyes and enjoy the moment.

-Jessica C. Andrews

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