Bikini and the beach – the body image struggle

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 , , , , Permalink 0

Back at home, in Florida, I’m settling back into a normal life. Sort-of. Two days after I returned from Cabo San Lucas, Tall Guy ran off to Key West for a week. That same evening our house gained three dogs. For those of you counting, that makes a current total of four dogs and four cats. Instead of a husband, I have a farm. It’s fine, but it’s not exactly normal life.

As for more Mexico, I’m dying to share more stories and about a million photos. But something inside me felt like there’s something else to say, first. The problem is that I’m not sure what it is. I’ve been sitting here, trying to figure it out, and there a few topics that keep popping into my head. One of those recurring bubbles is about body image, and is definitely linked to Cabo, so maybe that’s the one I need to work on right now.

I’ve written about body image issues before, specifically my inability to practice what I preach when I say everyone is beautiful, no matter their shape or size. Prior to getting on the plane this past trip, I knew that I’d be spending a good portion of my time in a swimsuit. Before I’d even finished packing the bikinis, I was wondering whether I should a) take photos of myself when in a bikini, and if I did, b) whether to share those photos online.

On the one hand, I don’t believe in an ideal body for all women, and encourage proud love of one’s own body. Wouldn’t sharing photos of my own, imperfect, body in swimwear shout that sentiment louder than any words?

On the other hand, I’m currently the heaviest I’ve ever weighed in my life. I was a lifeguard, a synchronized swimmer, and a skinny girl for a long time. There are TONS of pictures of me in swimsuits where I look good. Any pictures taken now are going to show a completely different figure, and it’s one that I’m not proud of.  How can I possibly give other people an opportunity to say about my body the worst things that I’m already saying in my head?

When the plane touched down, I still hadn’t figured it out. A couple days in, sitting by the pool with Susan, I shared my dilemma with her. If I recall correctly, she – without pause – told me to do it. To take the photos. To post the photos. Within the same poolside conversation, however, I noted that she’d worn tankinis two days in a row. She said she “shouldn’t” wear bikinis. Susan is a runner. Susan is in shape. Susan has a fit, proportional, great-looking body. My immediate response, out loud, was “that’s ridiculous.” The talk then travelled to our previous Mexico spring break adventures, and how great we looked on those trips. And yet, at that time, we had no idea how great we looked.

with Susan in Mazatlan, Mexico - Spring Break sophomore year of college

with Susan in Mazatlan, Mexico – Spring Break, sophomore year of college

How much of our lives do we, as women, spend wishing we looked differently, all the time missing how wonderful we look just as we are?

with Susan in Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point), Mexico - Spring Break junior year of college

with Susan in Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point), Mexico – Spring Break, junior year of college

Once again, I’m reminded that I need to be less critical of my appearance. And yet, I can’t share a full-length photo of myself in beach or poolside glory. I didn’t take any.

As much as I want to be a champion of self-acceptance, it’s something that I’m continually working toward. I’m not there, yet, but I want to be. However, while there aren’t full-length photos of me in swimwear, I refused to let my “imperfections” stop me from getting out in those bikinis and enjoying every minute of my time in Mexico with one of the best friends a girl could ever hope to have.

with Susan in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - Spring Break, many years post-college

with Susan in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – Spring Break, many years post-college

Once again, Tall Guy and I are going to launch an attempt to eat even more healthfully and increase our activity. I’ll never again be the skinny girl, but hopefully I’ll be the girl who loves, is proud of, and shares photos of, her capable body.

  • Kasey
    April 14, 2015

    girl, just do you! growing up with all guy friends who forgot that I was a girl kinda shielded me from the whole body image issue, and for that I am forever grateful. so I’ll wear bikinis until I die, yo.

    • Jeans and a Tank Top
      April 15, 2015

      Thank your lucky stars, girl. Truly. I’m with you on wearing bikinis for life (82 year old cryptkeeper in a 2-piece? You know it!), I just want feel HOT when I do it!

  • Stephanie Smallsen
    April 15, 2015

    every swimsuit I owned was a bikini, until this year. Now that I have stretch marks from Sophie, I went out and bought a one piece, and im thinking of buying another. Although Nick constantly tells me how much he loves my body, still Im not sure if Im brave enough to bare my stretch marked stomach all summer long. Im with you on the struggle!

    • Jeans and a Tank Top
      April 17, 2015

      Listen to Nick. One thing I have learned is that another person probably has a more accurate concept of our body than we do.

Let me know your thoughts on this

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