My Bathing Suit Insecurities

10 comments

I’ve got to admit something. I tend to tell people that I don’t really like the beach and deflect all invitations to do something requiring that I put on a bathing suit. Yes, I bared my stomach for the internet to see but my challenges with accepting and appreciating my body haven’t gone away. I’ve wondered, fairly often, if my fear of being seen publicly in a bathing suit is impacting my ability to give my daughter all the joys of childhood.

She’s been to the beach just a handful of times and each time we’ve gone I’ve had a hard time really enjoying being there with her because I’m always so uncomfortable in my skin. I’d much rather go to the park, playground, farm or anywhere else that doesn’t require me squeezing into a bathing suit.

Maybe it’s PTSD from my middle school years when I was fairly overweight. It was during those difficult adolescent years that I discovered emotional eating and the pounds packed on. I have a very vivid memory of being at the pool in my town with one of my then closest friends. I took off my shirt and went in the pool to have some fun and another kid yelled at me “Look out there’s Shamu!” I was completely mortified and from then on never went to any friends pool parties and avoided the pool just in general.

Isn’t it amazing how things like that can stick with you for a lifetime? It seems crazy that something that happened so long ago still impacts how I see myself.

Recently I decided to work on moving past my fear of the bathing suit and I took my daughter to the pool in town. She had a blast! We went in the adult pool together and while I held her we pretended to be mermaids, pirate kitties, sharks and magical butterflies. While I was in the water I felt much less self-conscious but those moments of getting in the pool and then getting out definitely made me uncomfortable.

At one point I had just gotten out of the pool with her and another mom was walking by. This other mom looked so good – she was thin and in a cute bathing suit and I almost didn’t make eye contact because of feeling not so great about myself. But then she look right at me and remarked “your daughter is just so cute!” I had a moment right then where I realized that I’m always so worried about what other people think about me but maybe in reality they aren’t thinking about me at all. How freeing! This other mom wasn’t put off by seeing me in my bathing suit, so why am I so worried?

It was really wonderful laughing hysterically with my three-year-old as we played in the pool and I don’t want to let my issues get in the way of her getting to do things she clearly enjoys, like swimming and even playing in the sand at the beach. I’m not sure I’ll ever get to a point where I’m completely past my body issues but I can start not letting them dictate what I do and don’t do – and you know what? That feels good.

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10 comments on “My Bathing Suit Insecurities”

  1. This is great. So many of us have issues with our insecurities, myself included. Thanks for sharing this. Stuff that we struggle with can be difficult to THINK ABOUT, nevermind share! You are really brave for writing and sharing this. And it will resonate with many more people than you think! I constantly forget that people probably aren’t looking at me or judging me as often or harshly as I think they are. And your daughter is so cute … and so are you!

  2. Thank you for your brave post that resonates SO very deeply with me. As an aside, I recently discovered Swimsuitsforall.com, which has a variety of bathing suits, bathing dresses, tankinis, tankinis with skirts, and even biker short bottoms — and they’re pretty stylish, to boot. Sizes all the way up to 28. I have found the skirts give me more confidence when getting in and out of the pool … in case it’s helpful!

    I marvel every day at the irony of being blessed with a daughter when I, myself, am a living example of practically every “girl challenge’ one might struggle with – from body image to boundaries to acknowledging my own needs and more … but I have come around to the idea that maybe THIS is what I am meant to model for my daughter, and in doing so I am giving her the gift of showing her how to LIVE a life that is not perfect.

    After all, as my flesh and blood, isn’t there a chance that she might face some of the same challenges I did – and still do? And isn’t it a gift that I have an opportunity to be a living example of how one can live through it all and still have happiness and success in their lives? Isn’t it kind of my responsibility to model for her how one can be IMperfect, and still be happy? (Or at least FAKE It TIL I MAKE IT! ha)

    Yeah, as someone who is more than 100 lbs overweight, I definitely want to DIE at the thought of parading ‘confidently’ around the beach in a bathing suit — in fact, I tend to try to hide inside as much as possible. And, by the way, even when I was a skinny size 14 I felt the same level of mortification, so I’m not suggesting it’s about my actual body size, it’s definitely an underlying issue of insecurity no matter WHAT our body size — and it’s comforting to see confirmation from these other moms who are tiny compared to me that they feel the same!

    But now that my daughter is nearing 4 yrs old, I am acutely aware of the fact that she is formulating her own perspective about how SHE needs to behave in the world based on my example. And I want her to grow up to be a strong, confident, resilient woman – regardless of her body size and circumstances. So *I* need to be that for her. Am I the fit, energetic, breezy, white skinny jeans and tunic-wearing “let’s have a BBQ at the beach!” mom that I had always hoped to be? Not yet. And …. maybe not ever. But I haven’t given up hope. In the meantime, however, I need to do the best I can to show my daughter that it’s okay to live in your skin *just the way you are.* So, I am the white (pregnancy) jeans and (cheap, oversized) tunic knock-off-for-fat-people-wearing “let’s have a BBQ at the beach!” mom. To my daughter? I’m a grown woman and mother who is much larger than other moms in stature but otherwise no different. I feel like maybe this is the life lesson *I* am intended to learn for myself as well …

    My kids were delighted when I also got an ice cream with them yesterday. My son said “Mommy, you NEVER get ice cream too!” And there I sat with them, as overweight as ever — so, really, what good did passing on the ice cream all of those other times do?! In addition to noting that I shall no longer pass on ice cream with them in the future, I also noted their delight that I was joining them in something fun and special. It matters to them.

    Michelle, you getting into the pool with your daughter matters to her, and is a brave and wonderful gift you are giving to her. She is so lucky to have you as her mom. And, to paraphrase my absolute most favorite ‘quotable’ from this website, “you are exactly the mother she was meant to have.” xxoo

    1. Oh man Nicole you have me crying this morning. You articulated so beautifully exactly why I’ve started to try to not let my insecurity dictate what I do with her. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you for this incredible comment, I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my cheeks. Thank you.

      1. Aww I’m so glad to connect: it was cathartic for me to write, and is a struggle for me to live up to, every single day. I *might* have snarfed down a few cookies writing it. hashtag: we’ll get there 🙂

  3. It’s so crazy because every single mom I know feels this way including myself! I try to recognize that worrying so much stops fun. I love this post and your sexy ass!!!

  4. Such a brave and inspiring post, Dear Sister. I think you’re amazing and I love you. I have my own bathing suit insecurities as well. This past winter as I was cleaning out my closet, I was trying to decide which bathing suits to keep and which to give away. And then I realized there was such emotional baggage tied to all of them! So I got rid of ALL OF THEM! It felt so good! But it was winter and I didn’t need them. lol. Now that it’s summer, I just haven’t had the heart to buy another bathing suit that’s emotionally charged…so I’ve just been swimming in bike shorts and t-shirts. I just don’t want to feel on display in a bathing suit! Men aren’t! WTF? ♥

    1. Thanks for commenting! I think you are an incredible hot lady so I’m amazed to know that you too don’t like wearing bathing suits. They are so emotionally charged aren’t they?!

  5. Sometimes I feel this way often but I have to actually tell myself that no one is looking at me and if they are who cares?! Last summer I did do anything outside because of my weight gain from being sick so this summer I made a promise things would be different! I am so happy you had a nice time with your daughter- and she is cute!

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