I’m sitting on a sandy beach towel. It’s the summer of 1978 and I coyly look toward the camera. Although my pose looks comfortable, I am inwardly hesitant and unsure. I feel like my swimsuit is comfortable and fits me. The blue is slimming on my hips and the bold white and pink chevron draws the eyes up. My feminine asserts…my boobs were the focus. But even with this beautiful body in a gorgeous, flattering suit…I feel self-conscious. Another suit, years later…blue bottom, teal and green striped top. I’m thinking that it is the perfect faux bikini. You see, there is just a smidge of my back and belly showing, the top and bottoms are connected on the sides. I feel that it “holds me in”. The blue bottoms (once again) minimize my bottom, while the action was on the locked and loaded top.
I think the only time, as an adult, that I’ve felt confident about my body in a swimsuit was right before my wedding 22 years ago. I bought my first bikini–in forever! The top came in cup sizing, not small, medium, or large. I also purchased a sarong cover-up that matched. However, I only occasionally wore it. The thing I always wore with this suit was my attitude. I owned it–confidence. I knew that my body wasn’t perfect, but neither was my soon-to-be husband’s (and he thought that he looked just fine, thank you). In other words, I guess I had a little bit of outside validation.
I only wore this suit a handful of times. It spent most of its life in my dresser drawer. I even swapped it out for a non-descript one-piece for my honeymoon a year and a half later.
Most recently, I’ve rotated through unimaginative one-pieces that I’ve not really loved nor hated. Sometimes I actually wear a sports bra under a slippery-fabric onesie with shorts.
I am self-conscious, not only of my fluffy tummy but also of my abundant boobs and old legs. The fact that I no longer spend time in the sun or in a tanning bed further complicates my body image.
You see, I love advertisements that say things like, “If the bikini fits, buy it in every color.” –LSpaceSwim and “If it requires a bikini, my answer is yes.” I love the illusion of freedom, beauty, and self-acceptance. But I guess this indicates more about my critical nature rather than anyone else’s approval or disapproval of me.
I think this comes from some early “teaching”. Relatives would comment on body differences between my sister and I. The shaming did nothing but make Michelle pissed. The praise appeared to benefit me, but it was never really meant as a compliment. The message was skinny is good, fat is bad. Women should look this way, not that. How you look is more important than who you are and how you feel. Your value is dependent on how you look.
Have you been to a water park in the mid-western US? There are jiggly thighs and plenty of scary tattoos peaking from above tight tanks. Bellies (both male and female) hang over shorts all over the place. But no one seems to care. Maybe they had different teachers, different lessons.
A young woman is chasing her two little ones — she isn’t looking at me.
A couple of teeny-boppers are giggling with their hands over their mouths as they walk past a group of boys playing water basketball — they aren’t looking at me.
A mature man walks past carrying fruity drinks with little paper umbrellas and pineapple garnishes — he isn’t looking at me.
Everyone is living their own lives, thinking their own thoughts. It’s only our world that revolves around us. “What about those horny teenage boys? Aren’t they looking at you and snickering?” you may be wondering. Well, it really doesn’t matter if you are wearing a skimpy red bikini or the latest head-to-toe swim burka. They have vivid imaginations.
What I really want is a suit that holds boobs in place, doesn’t cut me in half at my stomach, or let my ass cheeks flop around for the world to see. I want to be able to get up off my beach blanket without having to readjust everything and move without showing my hoo-ha. Neutrality is what I’m looking for.
I don’t really think that people are looking at me, thinking about me, or watching me…
I just want to feel comfortable in my own body.
And I’m not really there yet.
Click here to check out other Sidetracked opinions
Click here to listen to the Sidetracked Legacies podcast
#sidetrackedsisters #sidetrackedlisa #sidetrackedlegacies #summervibes2022 #bodylove #swimmingsuit #bodyissues #bodyimage