This post was born out of boredom on our flight from New Orleans to LA a few weeks ago. It started off with me deciding I would use the time to write the review of the Bettie Swimsuit that was published yesterday but it very quickly turned into my musings of wearing a swimsuit in public. When I discovered it was #bodypostive week this week, I thought there would be no better time to publish it!
Society has programmed women to find swimsuits frightening. Through marketing campaigns for gyms and weight loss programs, they’ve told us that we need to get fit for summer so we look good at the beach. They’ve told us that we should start preparing months in advance because we couldn’t possibly consider going to the beach and show anything less than a bronzed, toned, waxed bod… right?
Then you’ve got to get a swimsuit. Going swimsuit shopping is notoriously terrible for a woman’s confidence as all of a sudden, any insecurities about our bodies are completely exposed and everyone at the beach will totally be scrutinising every single dimple on our thighs… Right?
Wrong. More likely than not, the other beach-goers are just wanting to have a good time and aren’t even looking your way. Our insecurities about what others think of us are so often blown out of proportion in our heads but sadly it can stop us from living life to the fullest.
Growing up, I was a water baby. Dolphins were my absolute favourite animal, I was in the water whenever I could, often going to the pools on the weekends with Mum and our summers were spent at my Grandparents Bach at Red Beach. I was a strong swimmer and often won or placed in school races, sometimes ahead of the girls who took weekly lessons. Then puberty started to hit around age 11 and I got boobs, gained weight and became increasingly uncomfortable with how I looked. I stopped competing in swimming sports at school shortly after and I remember that last time I did, the utter terror at having to walk from one end of the pool to the other in front of the entire school in just my swimsuit.
During the rest of my teens, I would still swim a little bit if we were out on the family boat but by the time I hit what I call ‘my bad body years’ where I became obsessive about my image and started to develop a eating disorder, there was no way you could get me in a swimsuit. Even once I’d recovered from all of that, swimsuits still felt like a weak point, a trigger that could stir up all those feelings of hate towards how I looked, so I still didn’t go near them. I didn’t go in the ocean or any kind of swimming for probably 3 or 4 years, which for me is really, really sad.
So what got me past it? A combination of finding swimsuits that make me feel comfortable and beautiful in and making the decision to push through the insecurities and find confidence because goodness knows, I don’t want to be a old lady and not done all the swimming I wanted to in my life simply because of a bit of cellulite.
Sometimes, when all else fails, you’ve just got to pluck up the courage to fake it till you make it with this sort of thing. You might be terrified on inside, but stand up, push your shoulders back and walk calmly to the pool. You’ll realise it wasn’t so bad, no one laughed, jeered or pointed at you like you imagined and now you can enjoy a refreshing dip. That’s what helped me push past it all anyway- even once I became comfortable with my body, there was still sometimes that fear of what other would think of say. Once I realised that no-one was going to point and laugh at my less-than toned legs,
The other thing that helped immensely was just going to the beach or pool and seeing everyone else there. It wasn’t full of airbrushed models that grace the magazines, it was full of women of all shapes and sizes and you know what… They helped give me the confidence to get up there too. Knowing that sure, they probably have hang ups about how they look, but they were still there wandering around in a swimsuit looking like they are having a great time and that gave me a little sense of comraderie… We are all battling our body demons together but we can’t let it stop us living and having fun. I’m immensely grateful to all the women I’ve shared a pool or beach with in the past couple of years.
For me, finding confidence wasn’t something that magically happened overnight. I didn’t suddenly go from hating my body to loving it, it came from a conscious decision that I think to some extent everyone needs to make if they want to find peace with themselves. Some of you might have a longer road to go, some of you might need to seek help and deal with past trauma that stops you from making that step but I still feel like there is essentially a decision to make at the start of your self-love journey that only you can make for yourself- ‘I want to learn to love my body’.
The point of this post is to hopefully encourage even one reader to take the plunge, strut around poolside or at the beach and embrace your glorious self just the way it is. You don’t need the fad diets, crazy exercise plans, juice cleanses, detoxes and constant war with yourself to get the ‘perfect bikini body’… you already have it! So get out there and have fun!
Read my other posts about body confidence here
Follow my favourite BoPo warriors @bodyposipanda and @fullerfigurefullerbust for inspiration on your IG feed
For help with eating disorders visit www.eatingdisorderhope.com and please talk to a close friend or family member for support.
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Categories: Body Confidence