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30 Women Around The World Tell Us How The Beach Makes Them Feel

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    Photographed by Heyson Du.

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    Anyone who has been near a magazine, TV, or billboard starting the moment the spring thaw sets in knows how this works — the same unrealistic images are trotted out to inspire women to get ready for the beach. And no, we aren't talking about helpful photos of how to pack a picnic basket. Sick of the ever-present pressure to fit some kind of "beach body" standard, we kicked off this summer with a single mission: Take back the beach. There's still a whole month of summer left, but we can't help but feel nostalgic for all that followed.

    We visited Bangladesh, Miami, Ghana, Istanbul, China, and, most recently, Cuba, to talk to women about how they view and experience the beach. We followed women into dressing rooms (not in a creepy way) and got real concerning what a terrible process swimsuit shopping can be. We learned that the beach was a major source of body panic for women, even though we know a day at the beach is really about not giving a fuck. We spoke with women who are learning to overcome their insecurities and love their bodies, and that goes back to what we've been saying all this time: It's your body. It's your summer. Enjoy them both.

    Click through to see some of our favourite images from our travels, and revisit what powerful things these women had to say about their own beach bodies.




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    Bangladesh
    Ibtida, 22, Student


    "I do worry about how I look on the beach a little bit, because people are staring and making odd comments

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    Bangladesh
    Mehreen Kabir, 21, Student


    "It is a common trend in our culture that a slim figure means beauty, but I don’t think this is the only way to measure or define beauty. Actually, true beauty is inside one’s heart. Yes, other people are judging my body… The pressure for me comes mostly from my family.

    "I think we are not perfect in everything and we are born with imperfection, which itself is a beauty."

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    Bangladesh
    Zareen Shakila, 21, Student, Dance Teacher, & Part-Time TV Anchor


    "I used to judge my own body and myself, and actually thought I had to live my life in a certain way or wear something particular to look good. But I felt it’s better I should do what my heart says. [I'd] rather let my feelings be free.

    "Sometimes, in the past, I used to judge other people, but now I don’t. We live in a certain society where people will judge you, but it is up to me if I am thinking like them or living like them."

  5. Photographed by Sarker Protick at VII Photo Agency.

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    Bangladesh
    Fariha Tabasuam, 21, Student


    "I have a feeling other people are judging my body. But I don’t do that [to others]. I don’t feel like [judging] others by their structure or body… We all are different, so why should we judge? It’s a bad practice.

    "I do think about my dress — which dress I am going to wear? What [will] other people will say about my clothing and me? For these reasons, I like wearing something that no one can say any bad comments about. No one can think badly about me or look at me in a bad way."

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    Bangladesh
    Boronika Sharker, 30


    "We men and women are all wearing clothes, but men look at us differently. They have a tendency to tease or harass us. And the way they look at us makes me feel ashamed. We women are talking or thinking about equality or equal rights, but we don’t actually get equal rights. We have to face harassment in different situations."