I’ve never felt excellent in a swimsuit. I’m not sure there are too many women who do.
It is such a shame because I am forever lured in to the racks of swimwear by the adorable and splashy prints. I love the time of year when swimwear hits the shelves. Seeing all the colors, textures, patterns and cuts is exciting. But something happens when I take a seemingly desirable piece of swimwear off the hanger to try on my body.
In the dressing room, I strip down all of my comfortable clothes to nearly bare skin (everyone knows you must leave your underpants on to avoid depositing or receiving some sort of regional goo in your nether regions). Ha. Was that too much?
Anyways, the lighting is usually florescent and directly over head which enhances any dimple, ripple, lump or jelly by 100%. My body becomes a strange and morphing creature.
Shrugging, I remove the bathing suit from its hanger thinking about how darn adorable the print is and begin to don its pieces. I always bring two sizes of every suit in with me because I never know what to expect. Will I be medium? Large? Something even larger than large? With swimsuits, I just never know.
All of the sudden, this cute friendly suit is strangely small, tight, and clinging to all the wrong places. I step back from the mirror thinking, “If I get far enough away everything will make sense here.” But it doesn’t make sense. Haha.
The bottoms ride up the backside while simultaneously requiring a Brazilian waxing in the front. The cups, sadly, are half empty. Not because they are being pessimistic either. The suit never seems to fit quite right.
I know I walk into the store with a human shaped body. I know they sell human shaped clothes. But what transpires behind a dressing room door I cannot explain.
I found a couple styles that weren’t the most awful thing I’d ever seen. Though, in my head, I definitely felt like I could be a little firmer, a little smoother.
I like to get opinions on swimwear and other clothes even if it is from a stranger.
Today, I sheepishly opened the door of my fitting area peeking around to see if any other female might be free to take a look and tell me their thoughts. I’ve done this a hundred times. Usually, someone small and fit comes bounding over happily ready to give an opinion.
I ask things like, “Does this look hideous?” and, “Do I look like a sausage stuffed into a casing,” and sometimes I share that I feel “like a wobbly bowl of something Bill Cosby might have whipped up,” and just need a second opinion.
This time, however, a large round woman sweetly walked over to me to give me an opinion on my suit. Immediately, I realized how rude I would be to ask her if I looked like a big lump of butter, or express my dissatisfaction with my reflection in the mirror.
It isn’t because I think she is hideous. But it is obvious she is larger. There is no hiding it. But in that moment, upon realizing that I had love for this woman and her shape, I wondered where the hell the love was for my own.
She told me my suit was adorable and that she wished her daughter would pick something like it (because it was modest in design). She called her daughter over to check out my suit and she agreed that it was cute. I thanked them for their time and willingness to come look at a stranger in a swimsuit because, let’s be honest, it might be a little weird.
I was befuddled upon closing my dressing room door.
Again in my head I realized the willingness to love and be kind to strangers, and my knee jerk insensitivity to myself. I looked again in the mirror this time, trying to just see me. Maybe trying to see the “me” those women were seeing when they saw me standing in my suit. Maybe trying to see the love I had for them reflecting back at myself.
I’ll tell you, after that encounter, I felt better. I realized that I do have love for my body because I have love for everyone’s body. I would never think poorly of someone because of their shape or size.
Why is it so hard to extend the same kindness to myself?
Accepting my body is a constant work in progress. I have good and bad days. There was just something special about this encounter. It reminded me that loving myself is an excellent way to love others and vice versa.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Sarah Qureshi/Editor: Travis May
Photo: Bernie Dexter via flickr