The dreaded swimsuit. For many women this is one yearly event they put ahead of most on the horribleness scale. I have been one of these woman. Until today. Today I went swimsuit shopping and it was actually the best trip of its type to date. I even bought a two piece! No, I am not in the best shape I’ve ever been, nor the lowest weight, or reached the goals I am working toward, but I AM in a healthy state of mind.
I knew this shopping trip was coming. For my Mom’s Mother’s Day gift she wanted my sister and I to go with her swimsuit shopping, the goal for us to each get a new suit. I know, that probably doesn’t sound like the funnest outing, but she figured why not go do something you usually dread with the people you love the most. Makes sense right? Today was the day. I woke up and I mentally set the stage. Armed with my recent realization that the trouble with swimsuit shopping isn’t with my body. The problem is with my mind. I decided this time I would take charge. I decided that I would smile. I would refrain from ANY negative self talk before or during or after the outing. I would keep an open mind and be KIND. I would DO this without tears and maybe even have a good time.
At the store I grabbed many different sizes and styles of suits. Some I thought were pretty, some I thought would fit nicely, some I wasn’t as sure about. But I wanted to see what would fit best on my body type. I kept an open mind. I chose some halter, tankini, bikini, short skirt, shorts and one piece suits. I did this without pre-telling myself which ones would look horrible or show which flaws. I did this without worrying about the size numbers and took a range in with me. Once in the dressing room I just got to work trying things on.
I smiled and I complimented my mom and sister when they popped out of the dressing rooms in the suits they were considering. I treated myself as I treated them. I smiled in the dressing room. If a suit was too small I didn’t even think about it. I just took it off and tried the next one. No taking an extra long look at myself in the too small or ill fitted suit, no making mental comments about how ‘if this was firmer’ then… or ‘if I’d lost the pounds I planned to’ that…nope, I just moved on. If any negative thoughts crept in I pushed them away with positive ones. Some of those were along the lines of, “you’ve had two beautiful babies..” and “that color looks nice with your skin or brings out your eyes”. There were not any of the, oh god look at those stretch marks, scars, cellulite and bulges that I used to add to any suit shopping of past years. The agonizing nit-picking flaw finding and pinching at my body, the under the microscope scrutinizing that women are sadly so good at. No thoughts of crazy diet plans or researching plastic surgery, specifically mommy makeovers. No unrealistic comparisons to the “perfect” swimsuit models. I reminded myself that I don’t point out the flaws of my loved ones. I comment positively on what accentuates their assets. I build them up. I’ve finally decided I deserve that respect too.
My daughters are often reminded of The Golden Rule, “to treat other’s as we want to be treated”. I’ve decided that we should add to also “treat ourselves as we treat others”. How I look in a swimsuit shouldn’t be what makes or breaks me. It should not have the power to reduce me to tears. It should just be what it is. ME in a swimsuit. Nothing more, nothing less. I refuse to be defined by what I imagine people’s expectations are of who can wear a certain type of suit or let my own mind bring me down. From now on, I want all people to wear whatever suit makes you feel the most comfortable and leave it at that. No more suit shaming of ourselves or others. No hiding at or avoiding the beach. We are all still ourselves, just in a swimsuit.
So now I’ve done the unthinkable. To conquer my fear of wearing this new suit in public I have posted it here. What’s my local pool or beach compared to the internet? Below is me in my new swimsuit. Not perfect, but happy with me.