Two years ago, I confessed a big secret. Back then, it had been eight long years since I wore a bathing suit in public. I was simply too uncomfortable "showing off" my body in that manner. No matter how much fun I was missing, my fear of judgment from others won out.
I know how silly it seems. I know that while I idolized the bodies of others, many women would cut off their arm for the chance to look like me in a bathing suit. And I know that it seems a little immature and self-centered. After all, who am I to think that anyone is even paying me any attention or cares what I'm wearing?
Still. After years of disordered eating and obsessive exercising, which I'm proud to have overcome, I just wasn't mentally "there" yet. While I took steps to start loving my body and began to eat and exercise without extremes, I could not shake major body dissatisfaction. I did not feel like I looked good enough to parade around in next to nothing.
When I wrote that blog, I was determined to change my fate. For one, I was tired of missing out. Secondly, I was tired of talking and thinking so negatively about myself. But mostly, I thought about the future. Someday I hope to have kids of my own and—especially if they are girls—I never want them to struggle with body image or eating issues the way I did. And the only way for me to model confidence and self-love is to really live it. So why wait? Might as well start now.
My previous confession received so many great comments, from men and women who felt similarly, to people who were giving advice for taking the plunge (literally). I firmly believe that sharing ANY goal with others—even my goal of wearing a bathing suit!—makes you more accountable, and that is the real reason I blogged that day. It wasn't that I had changed overnight and suddenly felt OK about myself—not even close. But I said I was going to do it, and by gosh, that meant I had to follow through.
Over the past couple of years, I'm proud to say that not only did I conquer my fear of wearing a bathing suit, but that I have worn my (beloved) bathing suit on many occasions and in front of many different people: at the beach in Chicago with one of my good friends, during the daylight (I formerly would only jump in after dark), and at multiple pools with my family and friends. And you know what? I lived through it. NOTHING happened. No one stared at me. No one commented about me or my body. No one paid me any attention. And next week, I'm going on my first-ever beach vacation since I was a young kid. Other than my bathing suit, I'm not packing much—I plan to live in it!
Still, I didn't go from not wearing a bathing suit for almost a decade to suddenly feeling confident and great in it. It took time, and a lot of positive self-talk. Here are some of the things I did to conquer my fear.
Sorry, you won't see a photo of me in my suit for this blog. Although I have no problem sharing one, confidence in your swimsuit has nothing to do with how your body really looks, and I certainly don't need comments one way or the other on how I actually look in my swimsuit. This new confidence—it comes from inside myself.
What helps you feel confident in your swimsuit?
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