POD GIRL SUMMER: your body is not wrong, society is.
The summer of 2022 emerged like a tour de force to lead us out of the cold, dark, and pandemic-filled winter of 2021. And as restrictions lifted around the globe, things shifted.
During the last couple of years, the media has been largely focused on Staying Safe, however, as the world re-opened it appears they returned to their idea of Hot Girl Summer (HGS).
No one is immune to the bombardment of images we see daily on our screens. This flood has a powerful impact on our body image and plays a significant role in how we perceive our bodies. Summer can sometimes amplify anxiety over body image and trigger those struggling with body dissatisfaction and eating disorders.
The media push of HGS is problematic and can have far-reaching consequences for body image.
In the summertime, we are not as covered. Swimsuits, shorts, and sundresses replace woolly sweaters. And the pressure to be summer ready becomes hard to ignore.
A quick Google image search of the terms Hot Girl Summer and summer body finds endless advertisements sending strong messages that reaffirm that our cultural definition of beauty for women is thinness while muscular is the ideal for men. When these are achieved, they suggest that the result will be love, happiness, and success.
These often-unrealistic images have been fabricated and highly stylized by art teams and digital manipulation.
And they rarely include someone wearing a medical device.
MAKING THE INVISIBLE VISIBLE
When I switched from multiple daily injections (MDI) to the Omnipod® Insulin Management System in November 2018, I gave little thought to the now-visible Pod on my body. I began insulin pump therapy at the time of year that we don cozy sweaters and multiple layers.
However, when the summer of 2019 arrived, I had to address the sudden visibility of my type 1 diabetes. Shorter sleeves and tank tops meant having my diabetes “out there” for the world to see, yet the exposure was oddly freeing and validating.
It curated proof my condition does exist.
But that also meant, for me, fully acknowledging and accepting my T1D.
And dealing with a new body image issue. I had to remember that there are some aspects of my body I cannot change. One aspect is my pancreas; it does not function properly. I need insulin to survive and the best way for me to manage my diabetes is with my Omnipod insulin pump.
So, I had to come to terms with the now tangible presence of diabetes on my person. There was this device on my body staring back at me. And people staring at the device.
And sometimes asking questions.
I was not entirely prepared but easily slipped into the role of educator. The sudden visibility of my invisible condition empowered me to raise awareness and advocate.
WEAR WHAT YOU WANT!
I have my own body image struggles, which resurface nearly every time I get dressed. It is a challenge for me to feel confident and not perceive my body in a negative light. Even an outfit I have worn a dozen times can suddenly pose a problem.
The summer months can be particularly difficult. Debilitating even. I have cancelled or declined attendance at events and gatherings because I cannot find something to wear.
Over the years I have implemented a methodology to ease getting dressed. I carefully plan out and prepare outfits (and back up outfits in case the original plan needs to be reworked) ahead of time to diminish my inevitable anxiety.
That is why I am particularly grateful for the tubeless feature of Omnipod.
Ready to simplify your life? Request a free Pod Experience Kit today!
Those difficult moments I experience when getting dressed are a little easier because I do not have to carefully curate my Pod placement. The Pod can be placed almost anywhere you would inject insulin. It also makes wardrobe changes a breeze!
While I was on MDI, my injections were administered exclusively (with site rotation in practice) in my abdomen because that was most navigable with my needle phobia. I now wear my Pod in places I was unable to inject, like my arms and legs.
And that makes the Pod my favourite summer accessory for any outfit.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
When I was exploring insulin pumps, water was a significant factor.
At first, my concerns came from disconnecting the insulin pump to shower/bathe. I had this incredibly overwhelming fear that I would get caught up in daily life and forget to reconnect after a shower only to realize hours later.
Then my thoughts turned to summer. One of my favourite things to do is to be in, on or near the water.
Thankfully, the Omnipod® Pods are waterproof*.
Now when the opportunity comes, I can make a splash and dive right into the water or run through the sprinkler with my son and remain connected to my insulin pump.
Another favourite activity of mine is hiking. I love to be outdoors, hitting my favourite trails, and exploring new ones in the summer months. My Personal Diabetes Manager (PDM) can fit easily and accessibly in my pocket should I need to make on-the-go adjustments while out walking or riding.
Being able to easily adjust my basal program during the summer months is especially helpful. Sometimes the summer is packed full of activity and sometimes those activities look a lot like relaxing and recharging.
Those shifts in activity also bring with them shifts in eating habits. Navigating all those changes is simplified with Omnipod. That means I spend a lot more time in the great outdoors, enjoying the summer with my family doing all the things we love to do, and a lot less time worrying about my diabetes management.
SUMMER OF OMNIPOD®
While we may not be able to escape the onslaught of body imagery associated with summer, we can mindfully approach it. Look around! The trees are green, the flowers are in bloom. Feel that sun on your face. Haven’t you been waiting for it!?
Summer is for everyone.
But the media would make you think that only the thin and muscular are out there enjoying all the warmer temperatures have to offer. The reality of health at every size and capability is not often portrayed.
I exist in what society perceives as a larger body. It has all kinds of rolls, folds, scars, marks, and bumps. But it is mine. And it is capable of so many things!
Phrasing like summer body or the media’s use of Hot Girl Summer and the pressure to be “summer ready” can have a detrimental effect on your mental health and unnecessarily skew your perception of your body.
These terms fixate on the physical appearance of a person’s body.
We need to change the narrative.
And shift our culture away from one that values the physical appearance of bodies over appreciation for what they can do – even if that requires assistance from a medical device like an insulin pump.
So, if you need me, you can find me outside living my best Pod Girl Summer.
* The Pod has a waterproof IP28 rating of up to 7.6 metres (25 feet) for up to 60 minutes.
The Personal Diabetes Manager (PDM) is not waterproof.