***WARNING: Things stated below are not meant to be taken self-deprecating. All statements listed below are done so with clear-headed truth.***
I’m over-weight. (You see the reason for the warning above.) Anyone who knows me, especially as of lately, will know this is true. While I know there are “proud-to-be-plus-size” women out there (who I totally admire, by the way), I am not one of them. I am not proud of my plus size. Yes, my body type is more on the bigger-boned side. However, if I was disciplined in my eating and exercise I would not be a plus size…at least I wouldn’t be a plus size in my own mind. I probably would not be in the impossible Hollywood standards, but those aren’t the standards I really care about.
Swimming is always a conundrum for me. I love swimming. I love getting in a lake or river, immersing myself in and just floating. But, with swimming comes the ever dreaded……….BATHING SUIT! If you’re a girl or you’ve ever been shopping with a girl, you know how stressful bathing suits can be for us. Especially for us who are in the bathing-suits-are-not-very-forgiving plus size.
I’ve had the same bathing suit for the last few years. It’s a modest one-piece that doesn’t make me feel completely worthless when I put it on. However, not many people usually see my bathing suit. Since a teen and for as long as I can remember, I usually wear a t-shirt over top…even in the water. Even though the t-shirt doesn’t really provide a slimming illusion, there’s some comfort in having that extra little bit of cover up. Maybe, just maybe, I don’t look so fat with this shirt on over my bathing suit.
This summer, my sister and I took my girls to Fundy Park on Canada Day. It was hot and Fundy provided the coastal coolness we craved to enjoy the day. Our first stop was Bennett Lake. The girls were very excited to get in the water. We set our blankets and towels and bags and coolers down and tried to get everything ready.
Then, the moment came. That moment when I look around and realize how many people are at this beach with me. How many people would see this fat body in a bathing suit.
But my eyes zoned in on the only two people that mattered. My two beautiful little girls. What message was I sending them if I walked in the water with a shirt on? What was my answer going to be when I was surely to be asked why I was wearing a shirt in the water?
My apprehension about people seeing me in a bathing suit were nothing compared to the fear I had for my girls. The fear that someday, maybe not that day, but someday my daughters would become concerned with their body image because they saw for themselves that their mother was so concerned about her own that she hid herself under a t-shirt. A t-shirt is not made to swim in. A bathing suit is. So, as I looked at my daughters, so excited about the beach and water in front of them, I opted to not put on my swimming shirt. I waded in the water with them, swam next to them, played with them.
My daughters mean the world to me. As they are grow, I realize more and more how my own issues could directly affect them. It would break my heart if I felt that I influenced them into thinking they weren’t beautiful, that they should be self-conscious instead of confident, that they weren’t as worthy as other people around them.
So, step one. I took off my shirt. Step two…still in progress.