every.single.year when summer approaches, you constantly hear the “I need to get in shape for summer” or “I need to get bikini body ready”. When I was younger, and larger, I never thought about it. After all, my mentality was basically that I was so large that I’d either (A) look like a whale or (B) do everything in my power to avoid a situation which would require me to wear a bathing suit. I always figured that when I became thinner I’d be so excited to buy a bikini and I’d wear it proudly.
Spoiler alert: that’s not the case.
The thought of bathing suits still haunts me today, even though I’m 90+lbs less than I used to be. To this day, when I put on a swim suit I feel like an absolute monster. In my mind, I chalked it up to still having the “big girl” mentality. It’s 100% true that when your body changes, your mind doesn’t always follow. I may be fit now, and thin now (I say this only because I see the size I wear), but I don’t feel that way. When I look in the mirror I still see the size 18 girl that I used to be.
When I met my now husband, we started going to the beach A LOT. He’s a beach bum, and I have grown to love it. In fact, I fell in love with it the moment we first went, and actually hated myself for depriving the bigger me from the beach when I was younger. I hated that I was so self conscious that I avoided some of the things that could have made me so happy.
Anyways, if you’re like me, when we go to the beach its hard not to people watch. I see other girls in bathing suits and think “wow, I wish I could look like that in a bikini”. Some of these girls are smaller, or more fit than me, but some of them aren’t. It’s a constant game of comparison. I just feel like literally every other person on the beach looks better than I do.
I was recently chatting with a friend about this very subject. She mentioned she had gone bathing suit shopping and how much she hated it. Let me give you some perspective, she is tall, stunning and fit. She mentions that she hates bathing suits and doesn’t feel comfortable in them, and that she often admires other women in bathing suits. So here I am, dumbfounded that she, an amazonian goddess, feels the same way I do about herself and others.
So it got me thinking, why on earth do we feel this way? Here’s what I’ve come up with:
Over the last 10 or so years, main stream media has been making a rather public effort to showcase more “average sized” women in ad campaigns. But here’s the thing, I can’t think of a single bathing suit commercial/ad or lingerie ad that shows an “average sized” women that ISN’T a plus sized brand, can you? Seriously think about it? All we hear lately is how companies are trying to be more honest, more relatable, but when you really stop and think about it, it seems like all they are doing IS talking, NOT acting.
When we are still so saturated with perfect bodies that aren’t attainable its hard to look in the mirror and be happy with your not-so-perfect body.
I’m not saying media is entirely to blame, but it’s not helping. I know that my body image issues stem from “friends” I grew up with, comments from family, and yes, things I saw on TV and in magazines.
All this is to say that no matter what size you are, you shouldn’t ever feel like you don’t look good in a bathing suit, or that you shouldn’t wear one because of what other people might think. Chances are, those people you’re worried about either won’t even notice you because their too caught up in their own head, or they will look at you and applaud you for being brave and beautiful. Don’t skip the pool or the beach because of your insecurities. Embrace your body, love your body and love YOURSELF. Go have fun and screw what anyone else thinks. If it’s any consolation, every woman in a bathing suit probably feels the same way you do.