I don’t ever remember a time when my pant size was less than double digits. When all of my friends in middle school & high school were wearing hip hugging jeans, I was wearing stretchy denim pants that were high waisted. I was okay wearing pants that weren’t “in” so that I could feel comfortable in my clothes & not sport a muffin top. I remember thinking that it wasn’t a big deal anyhow because the bottom of your shirt covered up the top of your pants, so why did it matter what kind of pants I wore?
My “bigger than everyone else” size never really bothered me when it came to clothes. But wearing swimsuits was a whole other issue. I hated being in a swimsuit around my skinnier friends. I hated that this was the only time in my life that I knew people could compare my body to theirs because there was more evidence exposed of what it truly looked like & I couldn’t use clothes to cover it up. One-piece suits were not in style when I was a teenager so I was stuck with bikinis that I spilled out of.
Water activities were not my friend. Public pools were my enemy. I hated going to our local water park as a kid because I just felt unwelcome. Running from a water slide to the wave pool out of the water in my jiggly suit was not what I thought of as a good time. If I did have to go to a pool party or hot spring, I either didn’t swim or hopped in the water so fast to hide my body so that no one would have time to stare at me & compare it to other girls. Towels were my security blanket, even in the hot sun.
When my parents got a speed boat when I was 12 years old I was really excited. Everything seemed safe about being on the middle of a lake with just my family to see me in a swimsuit. No embarrassment, no comparison, or so I thought. Summer weekends turned into lake days where my brothers & I would take our friends to have a good time. But the energy that should have been focused on being a young kid & enjoying summer, was actually focused on covering up my body with a towel or shirt so that none of my brother’s friends would see, especially when my thinner friends were around. My nightmare ended up not being avoided after all.
My friends never made me feel self-conscious, they never made fun of me. No one ever actually said anything about my weight or body out loud, & it never got back to me if they did. I had loving friends & family, & was never actually mocked. But the thing about insecurity is that it can sometimes start with a small thought in your head & spread like a nasty weed that ends up taking root & eventually overgrowing into every aspect of your life. No ever told me how to kill the weed. No one ever told me that I didn’t have to feel this way about myself, or that what I was worrying about didn’t actually matter because no one saw me like I did. No one saw my size, they just saw me. But I didn’t know that back then.
The older you get, the more comfortable you get with who you are. You start to accept yourself more. You start to care less & less about what other people think about you. And there is so much freedom in that! As big as I thought I was in high school, I’ve only gotten bigger. And smaller. And bigger again. And that is okay! Who you are is okay. I have never necessarily hated my body. I have never cried over what I looked like. I have been lucky enough to not have had to struggle to get out of bed because of my body size. I have been bummed when my pants don’t fit, I have been upset when trying on clothes at a store & it doesn’t end well. I have had plenty of pictures taken of me where I have felt “huge”. But, I have never walked away from those situations & let self hate be a part of the struggle.
This past summer my mom wanted to buy season passes to the same local water park that I went to as a kid. I didn’t even hesitate to say yes! There were a few fun memories from that place when I was younger & the nostalgia was stronger than my previous memories of self-consciousness. I had just been sponsored with a cute black one-piece swimsuit from Boohoo & with high waisted swimsuit bottoms being an in trend, I was ready to take on this past fear all summer long. My mom & I spent the next three months hanging out on the “adult island” of the water park & on the first day, it hit me. I didn’t care that I was in a swimsuit. I didn’t care that my body was exposed. I was comfortable in my skin, in a freaking swimsuit, & I didn’t care who saw me. And that thought I had, walking from my chair, across the pavement, & into the water gave me more confidence than I had ever had before in my swimsuit wearin’ life.
If you struggle wearing a swimsuit in public, I’ve been there. If you’re afraid to go to your best friend’s pool party, I feel you. If you would rather wear a shirt over your bikini top, I get it. I have been inside that struggle & have come out on the other side! To the young girl, you’re beautiful. To the middle-aged mom, you’re gorgeous! To the one who is uncomfortable in your own skin right now & you don’t feel good about yourself, you are amazing! Your body is your own, so you need to own it.
I don’t like it when people refer to their body image thoughts & mention weight. Pounds are just a number & guess what? Nobody knows yours! Your body is defined by more than just a few digits. Your body is defined by beauty & confidence, & measured in life experience & worth. Your body size will change throughout your life. I’ve seen my mom go through it my whole life, & my body has done the same. If you’re ever wanting to change your body, only do it for health reasons & not for anyone else but yourself.
Your body is not fat, or skinny. Your body is strong. Your body is capable. Your body is you. Your body is yours. Love your body size no matter what the magazines & world & grandmas have to say about it. More body love never hurt any body. Kill the weeds. Love your body more, & enjoy living your life free of self-doubt. You are enough, & that is enough truth to live by.
*brought to you by a girl who gets this struggle firsthand & is here to listen if you need to talk
Swimsuit by Strange Bikinis worn on my Hawaii vacation back in September! Shop owner Ali is native to my home town & makes custom bikinis here in Reno that will help you feel confident & beautiful (hence that big smile in that pic above!). Check out her stuff, it’s rad!