Torture. That is what it’s like buying a bathing suit when you have body image issues.
Society taught me over the years, that I was too big for a 2 piece bathing suit. [for context: I’ve ranged from 150 size 10 to 205 size 16 as an adult] So I never bought one. I had hard enough issues wearing a one-piece while covering with t-shirts or long cover-ups to hide under. Even covered, I would be completely embarrassed that anyone would look at me, the entire time I was wearing it. Full mind-fuck, every time.
I want to be really clear. Weight loss for me was not because I hated my body and wanted to look better. Weight loss for me was health and urgency due to an auto immune diagnosis and significant physical issues I was facing. I never liked my body no matter what weight I was, ever.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Honestly, it’s not our fault. Society and peer pressures make it almost impossible. We’re inundated daily with media telling us what we should look like and I’ve never fit that standard, according to my brain.
It’s such a battle in our minds and it’s such bull shit. How do we make it stop?
When I found out I made it to worlds in functional fitness I also found out I’d have to do swimming as one of the activities. Swimming isn’t something we practice at our gym or have trained for in any way. The last time I wore a bathing suit was 20 years ago. The last time I swam front crawl for any length was 40 years ago.
Yes, I freaked out.
I was worried about two things instantly. How will I do this without drowning or completely embarrassing myself? How the heck will I find a bathing suit that isn’t going to make me so self conscious that I can’t perform?
My first attempt was to go to Sport Chek and see what they had. I stood in front of the wall of bathing suits and saw low necklines and bows and thongs, but nowhere did I see a simple speedo. The clerk, a young man, walked up to me and asked if I was finding what I was looking for. I said, I’m confused, I’m looking for athletic swimwear at a sporting store and I can’t find a basic speedo. He giggled and said, ya, these don’t seem very athletic. So, I left.
My second attempt was to buy a speedo online. I measured my body and followed the instructions for ordering and when I received it I couldn’t get it up over my hips. My brain said, “See! You’re too big for bathing suits”. But now that I’m 136 pounds and wearing a size 4, I know logically I’m not too big. Sadly, my brain was convinced. So I returned it, and stayed without a bathing suit for a couple weeks before I tried again.
My third attempt was to check out lululemon. If the speedos weren’t going to work, maybe lulu will (no idea where that logic came from). I found a nice looking one piece and ordered it. It came, it fit, it was fine. But it’s not really that great for speed swimming and got uncomfortable.
Finally, I found a brand I love and decided to see what they had. They only had 2-pieces, nothing that fully covers my body. I really trust this brand for it’s quality and decided to try it. I wore it the other day and for the first time, I felt empowered. My partner told me how good it looked and I believed him. It worked well in the water and I even posted a picture on social media.
Why did I post this?
To help me.
To learn to stop caring what I look like. To hear the encouragement of the amazing people I have in my life and boost my confidence.
In order to gain courage and confidence, you have to do what makes you uncomfortable and talk yourself through it. I told myself that I’m beautiful and that I don’t care what others think. It’s all part of the hard work, unlearning and relearning that is happening to me. It’s not easy, sometimes you have to fake it but over time, you will rewire those bad messages in your brain with good ones. It’s neuroscience.
So, regardless of what you look like or what your weight it, take a picture of yourself today and post it randomly on social media. Tell yourself you’re beautiful. And sit there as your brain lies to you and you learn let those thoughts go…pass by like clouds pass in the sky. Without holding them. Without judging them. With so much love and grace for yourself.
You ARE beautiful.