The Unhealthy Allure of the “Spring Break Body”


Matthew Straubmuller

As spring break approaches, the pressure to achieve a perfect beach body rises.

Clare Lawler, Managing Editor

Clare Lawler, Managing Editor

As spring break rapidly approaches, the phrase “spring break body” can be heard floating around the hallways. Teenagers, some of whom aren’t even finished growing, go on extreme diets and starve themselves just for a single Instagram photo. This is a huge problem.

This isn’t a new issue, either. Since I was in sixth grade (a twelve-year-old), people have been trying out dramatic diets and intense workouts before spring break comes around. My little sister, who is an extremely fit athlete in eighth grade, feels this pressure to have a perfectly toned, thin body as well; it is prevalent from a very young age.

When children—yes, children—starve themselves or work out too much, it can stunt their physical development. In addition to harming their physical health, it is also bad for their mental health. According to Polaris, 4% of adolescents suffer from anorexia, bulimia, or a binge eating disorder. These numbers don’t account for all of the teenagers that do not have a diagnosed eating disorder but go through periods of extreme dieting and exercise that border on one.

Social worker Maggie Harmsen said she notices a rise in dieting around spring break.

“I feel like there is a big pressure on girls to look and feel what other people think is the best,” Harmsen said.

Alexis Ren, an Instagram influencer who sets unrealistic expectations for girls.

A lot of this pressure on girls stems from social media. During spring break, any high schoolers’ Instagram feed is bound to be filled with carefully edited and posed bikini pictures, each person flaunting their own elusive “bikini body.” It is almost impossible not to compare yourself to all of the pictures that you see.

Seeing these pictures causes anxiety in almost every teenager, regardless of how fit they are. Everyone strives to be skinnier, to achieve some unattainable goal that they saw on an influencer’s social media. Many influencers have had some form of plastic surgery, and most of their pictures are extremely edited and posed, so it is nearly, if not entirely, impossible to look as influencers do on social media in real life.

Even if you don’t feel the pressure from social media, you can feel it merely by hanging out with friends. When in a group, many people often make loaded comments about how they cannot eat a specific food because they are on a diet. Or they brag about how little they have eaten all day. As a result, this can create a competitive culture about who can starve themselves for the longest. It is beyond unhealthy.

If fitness is a genuine concern for you, then you should work on living a healthy lifestyle year-round, not just scrambling to be “healthy” through unhealthy methods for a month or two. By making exercise and healthy nutrition an important part of your life, you can improve your mental and physical health for the long term. 

Just remember, all bodies are bikini bodies.