"Everybody has a part of her body that she doesn't like, but I've stopped complaining about mine because I don't want to critique nature's handiwork ... My job is simply to allow the light to shine out of the masterpiece."-Alfre Woodard
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Finally, summer is here in Chicago. There was a major heat wave this weekend and I live right by Lake Michigan one of my favorite places on Earth. Therefore, awhile back I had bought a two-piece swimsuit, and this was the perfect weekend to wear it. I had never worn a two-piece bikini that I liked or fit well until this weekend. When I was a teenager and early 20s the thought of me being in a two-piece was an unfathomable thought. Why? because I have always been chubby and well society has always said if you are not “beach body ready” which is being in the best shape well then you should just stay inside. I grew up in the 90s and remember the infamous commercial by Yoplait the itsy bitsy teeny weenie yellow polka dot bikini. The woman in the commercial wore clothes covering her from head to toe and stared at her bikini eating her yogurt until she reached her goal. It made me think I had to do the same. Hide until I was in the perfect shape. Although I knew I wasn’t getting there because I remembered I dislike intense exercise and I do like to eat. Even when I reached my goal weight I still didn’t feel “beach body ready.” So, I just always avoided being out by the beach if I could. I also grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico where we didn’t have an ocean or lake to go to, so it didn’t really bother me too much or I didn’t feel that extra pressure. Now that I live in Chicago and living right by the lake I wanted to go out in a swimsuit and feel ok with it.
Part of the problem also when I was younger was never being able to find a bikini top that fit my cup size. Walking in target or any store really was discouraging as the swimsuits were always so small. It was like the store was telling me I was not beach body ready either. As I said when I was at my smallest weight I still had big boobs and the bikini tops still wouldn’t fit so I thought I would have to just undergo breast reduction surgery to finally fit into a bikini top. I thought about getting breast reduction a lot and wanted so bad to fit into something that was at the store. If I lived where there was a beach and had extra pressure I probably would have undergone surgery for a breast reduction. Now finally in 2018 with the rise of e-commerce, I can find swimwear that fits, and I think that is the result of the body positive movement. One-piece swimsuits never had the support or coverage for my boobs either, so I needed a bikini top. I found one on Amazon and I absolutely fell in love with it because it finally fit. I felt so thankful that I never went under the knife to change myself just to fit into some bras and bikini tops that were very limited. But part of really being ok with myself has more to do with how I feel about myself on the inside. So, I want to share how you can get to that place and overcome the fear of showing skin or wearing that swimsuit with these tips.
The only way to overcome fear is to do what you fear. This is really the best way to overcome fear by just doing exactly what scares you the most. I feared being seen in a bikini one I wore it and got out there it was like my fear burst into flames and went away. I am still shy in a bikini because I don’t even like people to gawk and at me in any way and I know people judge and say mean things, but I didn’t care anymore because I was there, and I was going to be unapologetic. I know some people are afraid to show their arms, legs or stomach much less a bikini and therefore the body positive movement is so important. Nobody should fear showing skin because of judgment from others. That is really the only thing we are fearing when we don’t want to show a certain body type. What are people going to say? People will always find something to say even if someone was in the perfect shape. This is where you must realize its more about them than you if they were to say something negative. It's hot out and if you want to wear something that is showing something you fear the judgment of try wearing it out just once and see how you feel. Try places with little or no people just to get comfortable with yourself. I pranced around in my bikini in my apartment for a while and kept looking in the mirror just getting used to it. I was not picking myself apart as I have come further in my body positive journey. If you are still crying about how you look or feel depressed, you will have to work on the inside of yourself before you can get to this step.
Work on Loving Yourself. I was able to overcome a lot of my body image issues by working on myself internally. I was forced to because I was in a new city with no family or friends and when you are alone you are finally exposed to yourself. Instead of looking for someone to date to “fill” my life with distraction I decided to rely on myself. I learned so much about myself and found that I can count on myself through thick and thin. This made me realize that I don’t need to please anyone by having the perfect body because when I killed myself to look pretty and attractive it only brought superficial people into my life. I was the only one who stood by my side. Therefore, from this experience, I became my own best friend. I had to first forgive myself for a lot of mistakes because a big part of me was angry at myself for not putting myself first. When you have love for yourself, forgive yourself and work on yourself you begin to love yourself no matter what you look like. I looked in the mirror so differently, I looked in the mirror with compassion and love. If you are with someone or married, you can still work on yourself and give yourself the attention you need. You can take time away to be alone to spend time with yourself to get to know yourself. This is such an important step because without it you may never accept the body you have because you are not accepting the person you are as a whole. Learn more here about the benefits of self-acceptance.
You Don’t Have to Show Skin if You Don’t Want To. Also, there is more pressure in the summertime to show skin. As I said I still don’t like to show off skin not because I hate my body but because I don’t like being naked in from of strangers. I don’t like to be objectified so much and my boobs are magnets for gawkers and it can make me feel uncomfortable. I wore a bikini because it’s so hot and I wanted to sunbathe as well and as I said earlier one pieces may be worse for supporting the boobs. So, if you want to go out to the beach just know you don’t have to wear a swimsuit at all if you don’t want to. Sometimes we don’t go at all because again we fear what others think and we fear they will think we are ashamed of our body if we don’t show skin. Again, it is so important to get to a place where you stop caring what others think. When you live with the fear of what others think you are not living your life based on how you want it. It sucks when people are mean and nasty I’ve had comments made about me and in the moment, it hurts but the way I get over it is I think how sad the person is who made the comment. They can’t hide their ugliness inside and they should be ashamed rather than you for wearing a bikini. So, keep that in mind whenever you fear to do anything because of what others may say.
For those of you excited that Summer is here and truly enjoy being at the beach I hope you choose to get out there and enjoy it. Life is not promised tomorrow and you missing out on amazing memories, experiences and time with loved ones because you are not in the “perfect” shape is a shame. Create your own happiness by working on yourself inside first and everything else will fall into place.
Go out and live life!