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bikini photo: black bikini amy-under-tree.jpg Before I went to the beach yesterday, I had to stop and get a swimsuit because I somehow managed to lose every bit of my beachwear. I'm sure I'll find it sometime during late winter. At any rate, when I went to try them on, the saleswoman asked if she could help me with anything. I jkingly replied "Yeah, if you could just point in the direction of the magic bikini that makes me skinny again, that would be cool" and off she went with a sigh to show me some magic section.

Seriously, she did.

She took to me to the spanks area and I told her I was joking and I needed a swimsuit, not a fat suit, but the experience was most alarming because well, there were more varieties of spanks than bikinis. Are we really that concerned that we completely contort our bodies into something they aren't so we look great in a pair of jeans? How disheartening. And it only got worse.

Personally, I don't have much confidence in my looks, but I do wear bikinis. If you can't tell by all the stretch marks and appendectomy scars that my stomach is in the shape it's in not because I'm lazy, but because...well, life happens, then don't look at it. But, I did buy one of those bikini tops that looks more like a blouse and opens in the back so I can flip it up to tan my stomach, so maybe I'm more self-conscious about it than I realize. But, even when I was skinny I didn't like to walk around with my stomach showing so maybe it's just my natural comfort zone to cover it up.

What really tore me up is the conversations that took place at the beach. It was a Monday and it's a small beach, so it was pretty quiet there. For the better part of the day there were maybe 6 other women, all with kids and 1 or 2 guys. The most common topic of conversation? Fat.

Now, keep in mind that all body types were represented. I mean, from the ultra-skinny to the due-any-day-now pregnant. And every single one of them were ashamed of their bodies. In fact, if you had overhead the conversations without seeing the bodies, you would have thought that every woman there was swimming in lard. And realistically speaking, there were just average bodies.

We tend to think that women want to look good to impress men, right? So why is a collection of women at a beach so focused on body shaming? So much so that many of them never even got in the water because that would require taking off their bathing suit covers.

I got in the water. I swam. I floated on my floatie with my stomach exposed and I'll tell you what, I didn't even feel bad about it. After listening to those women, I realized that I felt worse about my body when I was skinny (and still trying to lose weight) than I do today. Why?

For one thing, I care far less today what people think than I ever did. Thank you universe for the lack of give a shit that comes with the 30s and 40s.

This makes me sad. Women are so ingrained with the idea that they have to be a perfect size that even when they reach a perfect size for them, they keep trying for something "better". They are so focused on it that it isn't even a matter of impressing anyone. It's this warped image that we all hold in our mind's eye.

You want to know what women are talking about at the beach? It isn't about what a great time they are having or that guy with the ripped abs out on the diving board. It's about the millimeter of skin hanging over the top of the bikini, labeled as "fat". It's about trying to convince one of your friends that she came to a beach to get in the water and it really is okay to take that coverup off.

Heads up ladies: you're worrying far more about the scale than anyone else is. Of all the men I know, only one of them even has a preference for the heroin addict look and that man has never in his life been in a happy relationship. The rest of them? They know they have imperfections and they kind of prefer their women to have a few as well because they want a woman, not an airbrushed paper doll.

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