We all know the women and men in bikinis on the front cover of every magazine that pop up right around May. With slogans such as “Get the perfect beach body in only four weeks!” we are lured into buying the overprized magazines and reading the same tips we read every year. The following was written on eHow in an article “How to get a beach-ready body today” (Fernando):

1 Eliminate starchy foods from your diet. If you want to look great this summer in your bathing suit, try to skip the breads, potatoes, rice and starches. These foods can make you look and feel bloated so take a pass. Replace these starches with green, leafy veggies like spinach and kale. Eat lean proteins like eggs, chicken and fish.

2 Don't eat sugary snacks, deserts or drink soda's. Get lean in time for bathing suit season by using sugar substitutes if you must satisfy your sweet tooth. Real sugar can make you pack on the pounds and feel out of place in your bathing suit.

3 Ramp up the cardio. Start a running regime and aim to run 5 miles or more each day. This will help both men and women lean out and lose weight in time for summertime poolside fun. Grab the weights and try weight-bearing exercises like squats and lunges to tone your body all over. Try a Jillian Michael's Biggest Loser workout. She can get your total body ripped in only a few short weeks.

4 Skip the salt and drink lots of water. High sodium levels in your body can cause you to bloat and retain water. To look your best and get beach-ready this summer you must aim to eliminate salty, processed foods from your diet. Drink lots of water to flush out sodium and harmful toxins from your body.

The underlying assumption for such articles is that there is a ‘body as a model’. This model is what people look up to as a role model. Today, we believe there is a specific type of body that is beautiful at the beach. This is largely influenced by the media with shows such as Baywatch. Davoren (2010) stated that “being happy without validation takes great self-confidence. For a woman, being fat and ugly and happy is a paradox - at least in the world of **media and marketing** and that world sadly has flowed over into our own.”

Comparing the everyday life body with actors or models poses a difficulty to the muddle. That muddle is (relatively) easily put: we suppose ourselves to be our physical bodies and particularly our heads, yet the moment we start to reflect on any specific feature, it ceases to be intrinsic to ourselves, but rather some objective property belonging to us (Brain, 2009). The harder I attend to my mouth, the more firmly it is placed at the end of my attention as its object. There is this gap where every bit of my body I attend to becomes something I attend to, not something that I am (Brain, 2009).

The traditional way round this seeming paradox is to distance oneself from the body altogether. As Prof. Tallis, Emeritus Professor of Geriatric Medicine, philosopher, poet and all round polymath in his formidable philosophical trilogy explains that the ‘true me is a non-body, something that lodges in my body and does not share its fate’ (Brain, 2009). But, this distancing of some non-material self from the body, as he points out, raises all sorts of unanswerable questions—about how it comes to be there and how ‘I’ experience the world through it.

The difficulty with the body cult obsession is that there is no distancing from the non-material self and the body. A beautiful body equals a beautiful person, inside and out. Or it evokes other stereotypes, such as blond and stupid. Although, at the beach it does not matter what is inside your brain or if you have a great personality, because all that people see is the body and it is all that is judged, which is why it is the only source from which one can derive happiness, self-confidence, and appreciation.

Fernando, C. Retrieved on eHow.com on 6 December 2010: http://www.ehow.com/how_6023793_beach_ready-body-today.html

Davoren, H. (2010). “Sweet little lies: skinny jeans and eternal youth”. Retrieved on 6 December 2010 on http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/

Brain (2009). “The Muddle of Embodiment”. 132 (6): 1678-1681. Retrieved on 6 December 2010 on http://brain.oxfordjournals.org/