Several years ago, the amazing Golda of Body Love Wellness) tweeted; “Rec’d a link to “How Not To Look Fat In A Swimsuit”. Wld ♥ to see “How Not To Obsess Abt Looking Fat In A Swimsuit & F-ing Enjoy Yourself” several years ago. The result is this post, which is a Danceswithfat annual tradition.
Today I got my first ad from a diet company telling me that I should buy their ridiculous product because, ostensibly, I need a different body in order to go to the beach (not that they could give it to me, even if that were true.) So today is the day that I post this!
Seriously, let’s talk about this. It seems that a lot of the women I know, of any size, start to panic the first time they see swimsuits out on the floor of their favorite store; their pesky cheerfulness belying what seems like their true purpose of prodding us into paying the diet industry for products that don’t work, and considering a move to Alaska.
I’m doing more open water swimming these days (which involves a wetsuit) but when I am in the gym at the pool, I wear my bathing suit with no worries. Here are a few reasons why:
1. It’s my BODY. I live with it 100% of the time. It does awesome things for me like breathing, and heartbeat, and swimming and I decided long ago that I am not going to allow anyone to convince me to hate or be ashamed of something that I am with 100% of the time for the rest of my life. I get to choose how I feel about my body and I choose to love it.
2. Because it’s a pool and when I go to the pool, I wear a swimsuit. It’s not for vanity – it’s practical.
3. I do not care if people are offended by my body. People are allowed to be offended by whatever they want and it’s really none of my business. I’m offended by people who are offended by my body, but it turns out nobody gives a damn which is as it should be. It is my BODY, if we all treated each other with basic human respect it would be impossible to be offended by the mere existence of people because of their body size. The very idea is ludicrous to me. Regardless, it is not my job to protect people’s delicate sensibilities – if they don’t want to look at me they are welcome to follow any of these options.
4. Hypocrisy is an ugly thing. It always seems like the same group of people who are telling me that because I’m fat I have some obligation to exercise (which is bullshit by the way) are subsequently offended by my body in a swimsuit. The message apparently being that they want me to exercise, but in my house with the shades drawn and wearing an outfit fashioned from a bed sheet. Screw that. Don’t like it? Your problem.
5. It is maddening to me that the diet industry makes over 60 BILLION dollars a year convincing us to hate ourselves. They create fear and uncertainty by saying things like “Swimsuit season is just around the corner, are you ready to wear a swimsuit?” Well, let’s see here… Swimsuit? Check. Body to put it on? Check. Yup, I’m all set thanks. Plus I think I’ll keep my money you bloodsucking leeches.
6. People can see me. So they know how big I am whether I’m in a swimsuit, or jeans and a t-shirt. If they are shocked at my size in a swimsuit, they should have been paying better attention. That’s just a big flaming sack of not-my-problem.
I realize that my swimsuit preferences are not everyone’s which is awesome. Not everyone, regardless of size, is comfortable with how much skin a swimsuit shows. There is no obligation to rock a bikini or a swimsuit of any kind in order to love your body or go to the beach. Here are some more ideas to help you stop obsessing and start having fun in the sun (or the oh-so-lovely incandescent glow of the overhead lights at the gym).
1. Alternative Swimsuits. These are often created for women who want to keep to specific religious clothing guidelines or who just want a more modest look. I did a quick Google search and found http://ift.tt/1gQqM2F/. I’m not affiliated with them at all so I make no guarantees, but it will give you an idea of what’s out there (and some of their plus size swimwear is actually modeled by plus-sized women. Woot!)
2. Fabulous Cover ups: If there’s a particular part of your body that you prefer to keep covered for whatever reason, an (aptly-named) cover-up might be just the thing. Here are some examples (again, no affiliation, check out the vendors before you buy!)
3. Safety in numbers. Go with a group of people who make you feel good about yourself and focus on the fun and not on any body insecurities you might have. Think about how fantastic your body feels when you are swimming, or going down a water slide, or splashing in the waves.
4. Reality check. One of my favorite quotes is by Mark Twain “I’ve had thousands of problems in my life, most of which never actually happened” When I’m worrying about something I try to remember that I am wasting energy on something that is not actually part of reality. So instead I…
5. …Expect the best, plan for the worst. Think about what your true fears are about going out in a swimsuit. Write them down and then create a plan to deal with each of them. Are you afraid people will say something mean to you? Create some scripting and practice it until you feel comfortable. Afraid of chaffing? Hie thee to Google and read up on the various lotions, powders etc. that can help with that, or look into swimsuits that can help. Worried people will talk about you behind your back? Maybe that’s the best possible outcome since you don’t have to hear it!
In the end of course it’s your choice. For my part, I’m not willing to allow my options for fun, activity, movement etc. to be controlled by what other people might think or say. If my own fears or insecurities are getting in the way I try to find a way over (modest swimsuit), under (cover up), or through (Eff this, I’m wearing a thong) the fear and insecurity because I’ve found that very often the pure joy lies just on the other side.
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