An Alarming Connection: The Summer Heat Makes Eating Disorders Worse

Maria Lemos, Staff Writer

Ice-cold popsicles melting in the sun. The joy of diving into a swimming pool on a sweltering Georgia day.  

For many, that’s what summer’s all about. 

But for freshman Taylor Giodorno, summer didn’t always mean sunshine and rainbows. To her, the start of the warmer season meant striving to achieve her perfect “beach bod.” 

While she looked amazing on the outside – toned muscles and a flat stomach – she said her health, physically and mentally, was deteriorating. 

“I just couldn’t keep going anymore,” she said.  

However, Giodorno is not alone.  

In a study conducted by the Society of Pediatric Psychology, an estimated 35-57% of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills or laxatives to lose weight rapidly.  

With bikinis and crop-tops dominating summer fashion, does this play a part in the growing trend in eating disorders? 

“As it gets hotter, you see more girls posting with shorter and smaller clothes like bikinis,” said Giodorno. “And since you want to look like them, you start doing sit-ups in the corner of your room at midnight until you can’t breathe.” 

In a study conducted by the International Journal of Eating disorders, Temple University psychology professor Denise Sloan found that women residing in warmer southeastern regions engaged in more bulimic behaviors and displayed significant concern over their body shape compared to women living in the northeast.  

Additionally, medical experts in Taiwan demonstrated that statistically, there is a significant increase in hospital admissions of patients with eating disorders in the summer months.  

Social media’s idealization of thinness and perfect bikini bodies is also a culprit of a flare in disordered eating habits.  

“I feel like as girls we’re forced to think we have to look a certain way. Being skinny and having abs is what everyone dreams of having,” said sophomore Bella Gaetano.  

Psychologist Lopez Witmer found that image-driven social media platforms are flooded with content championing the ideals of beauty, body shape, diet and weight loss and associate these things with being happy or successful.  

Entertainment media coverage of fashion models and celebrities’ weight-loss transformations may only worsen these societal standards.  

“Honestly, just look at Kim Kardashian at the met gala,” said freshman Alexis Holloway.  

According to Allure Magazine, Kim Kardashian lost 16 pounds in three weeks to fit into her Met Gala dress.  

“If she can do it, why can’t I?” said Holloway. 

When adolescent girls grow up with models claiming that 1,200 calories and an hour of cardio will make girls look good in a bikini, it becomes wired in their brains, said Holloway.  

“It’s not like girls do it on purpose. You’ll be scrolling through Instagram and comparing yourself to everyone,” she said. “It’s just an instinct.” 

As social media continues to fuel insecurity in teenage girls, the body positivity movement has risen up to counteract these beliefs about weight loss.  

Digital content creators have begun to share the idea that every body is a bikini body, and that a person doesn’t have to change the way he or she looks to be “ready” for the summer. 

Their posts can make a difference in the relationship an individual has with his or her body.  

“I wish girls realized that they’re perfect just the way they are. The expectations society has on us is unrealistic,” said Giodorno.