Wearing a bathing suit in public is tough. I have never felt comfortable with myself in a bathing suit even when I weighed 110lbs soaking wet.
Truthfully, I would rather stand in front of you completely naked than while wearing a bathing suit.
This weekend as I stood in the wave pool with my kids, I watched everyone else walking about seemingly not self-concious in the least bit despite their cellulite and stomach folds and leg hair and I started to wonder:
What is wrong with me? Why can’t I just get over myself and take this dress off? Or at the very least, why can’t I be a better actress?
I had on my long skirted swim suit with a tank dress cover up. My daughter was begging me to, “Take it off, mommy! Please, take it off…” She wanted me to look like the other moms around us.
To be honest, I felt terribly guilty. What am I demonstrating for my daughter? Body loathing? Am I teaching her to be ashamed of herself? Will I give her a complex? Are other people judging me?
But I just could not take off that coverup, even on the water slides, even in the deep water.
I simply could not do it.
I realized that I was not enjoying this experience because of all of the pressure I was feeling. That pressure was making me recount in my head all of the things I hated about myself. A never ending broken record.
I hate my thighs. I hate the extra bit around my middle after kids. I hate my shrinking boobs and my upper arms flapping. I hate my hair when it is wet. I hate my face without make up. I hate my big butt. I hate my teeth. I hate my smile. I hate my toes.
Just as a forty something woman with amazing abs walked by with her seven year old twin boys, it occured to me that I really was terribly ugly. Not a bit of flab was on her and I hated that woman. I hated her because I hated myself. She was everything I wanted to be. I have run marathons. I have worked out like crazy, starved myself…. But I am fighting a losing battle against the genes. My genes. AND, I am a forty something mother. Why can’t I just accept and embrace this?
How do I learn to love this body of mine? Maybe I need a self help book. Or two. Or three. Maybe even a seminar?
The answer, I have come to realize, is that I won’t ever love myself. Spare me the platatudes about all of that. I will never love myself. Oh, maybe from time to time I will like how I look in something, at least until I see the pictures, but I will likely never reach a point where I truly love and accept my body. Having peace about that is a huge step for me.
I will never love myself and that is OK! Is that such a terribly wrong thing to say? Does it make you feel uncomfortable? Maybe I seem like a sell out of sorts?
Why do I have to love myself anyway?
Why do I have to wear a terribly revealing bathing suit and strut around like I belong in it just to prove something? Why can’t I just do what makes me feel comfortable without feeling judged by it? Can’t I teach my daughter how to protect herself emotionally, to stand up for what makes her feel good about her body, even if it does not fit the norm? Maybe that is a more important lesson here than “loving” yourself.
Does that even exist, anyway? Truly loving yourself?
I don’t think so.
I think it is a lie, just another way to make us feel inadequate about ourselves. Rather than having my daughter waste away years of her life worrying about how inadequate her inadequancies make her feel, maybe the best thing I can teach her is to just accept that it is normal to feel this way and to move on.
Acceptance IS a form of courage, isn’t it? Acceptance is maybe even a way to love yourself? Regardless, I am done with worrying about it.
I had a great time once I let go of the coverup angst. So did my kids, and that is what matters.