Beach body ready? Shredding for summer? A first look at "seasonal body image"

Body Image. 2021 Jun:37:269-281. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2021.03.004. Epub 2021 Mar 20.


We introduce the term "seasonal body image" to refer to within-person variation in body image that occurs across the Gregorian seasons of Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Herein, we (i) quantified and visualised seasonal body image and its mechanisms, and (ii) identified individual predictors of seasonal body image. Sexual minority men (N = 823) residing in the Northern Hemisphere (n = 659) and Southern Hemisphere (n = 164) provided cross-sectional data about their experiences of body image phenomena in Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Most reported seasonal body image (∼70 %). As hypothesised, in Summer we observed peaks for body dissatisfaction alongside peaks in four proposed seasonal body image mechanisms: pressure from media advertisements, pressure from peers on social media, the feeling that one's body is on public display, and appearance comparisons. In Winter, these phenomena were weakest. Effect sizes ranged from small to large (rs = .07-.50) with an average effect size of medium (.38). Seasonal body image was stronger for individuals with greater muscularity dissatisfaction and body fat dissatisfaction, and for higher body-weight and younger individuals. Future research will visualise seasonal body image using a multi-country Twitter database containing several billion tweets spanning multiple calendar years.

Keywords: Bisexual men; Climate; Gay men; Seasonal body image; Seasons; Sexual minority men.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Advertising
  • Aged
  • Body Image / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Media
  • Middle Aged
  • Peer Influence
  • Seasons*
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities / psychology*
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Comparison
  • Social Media
  • Young Adult