For as long as I was first made aware that I didn’t posses a perfect body, I’ve been self-conscious about it.
The summer between my sixth and seventh grade year, I had a typical puberty growth spurt. I went from being of average height and weight for a female, to gaining a massive amount of weight and growing a few inches above everyone. Due to that growth, I got stretch marks on my torso and breasts. The time when a child goes from pre-puberty to full-on puberty is never a fun one. My high schools years continued this trend. Stereotypically awkward, and as my own mother told me a few years back, I went through an “ugly duckling stage.” Thanks, Ma.
I’ve struggled with my weight since then. The heaviest I’ve ever been was 266 pounds. The lowest weight I’ve been as an adult was 199 pounds. As of yesterday, according to the scale at my doctor’s office, I weigh 244.6 pounds.
I flip back and forth between being fine with my body to hating every single square inch of it. I’m somewhere in the middle as I write this morning.
With it being summer and there being a shiny new swimming pool in the backyard, my weight taps me gently on the shoulder and whispers in my ear, “you are going to be wearing a swimsuit now. Let’s not disgust everyone, shall we?”
I went shopping for suits this past weekend, and as usual, my experience was unpleasant. Not only am I a bigger gal, but I have a long torso. Suits in stores do not fit me properly. The straps dig into my broad shoulders, my breasts spill over the top, and there is such a phenomenon as a front wedgie. I dance around the tiny fitting room, pulling and tugging at the fabric in a vain effort to adjust the unforgiving material to cover my body, but if I lift one spot, another spot get uncovered, and it’s the ultimate no-win situation and incredibly frustrating.
There are suits called tankinis, which is a word as shudder-inducing as “panties” (shudder), and those are longer two piece suits designed for the more ample of us, but in my experience, they are also some of the most unattractive suits ever. The bottoms have skirts to hide bulging thighs; the tops have ruffles and gaudy prints to try to distract from full stomachs. I hate these things. Defeated, I ended up buying a simple one piece whose straps are sort of long enough, but I still pull and tug.
This may sound like I’m body shaming the woman I live with, and I don’t mean to, but hear me out. She wears bikinis, and according to the rule book made by the fashion industry, for all intents and purposes, her body type isn’t what these suits were made for. The kicker is–she doesn’t give a shit. She realizes she has extra pounds and isn’t a size 2, but proudly wears her bikini anyway.
“I’m in my own yard. I don’t care.”
I decided I admired that “eh…fuck it” attitude. Yeah! It is just the backyard! I can wear whatever I want!
So the other day, for the first time in my life, I, Erin, bought a bikini; just the top, though. The selection had been picked over and the size I felt would try to cover my butt wasn’t in stock, so I decided to wear a pair of short, short shorts. Tuesday afternoon, which I get off work every other week, I donned the green bikini top, shorts, and stared at myself in the bathroom mirror.
Panic set in. What the fuck, Erin? You look ridiculous. Go put on a one piece and return the top. But then…then I had a moment of clarity. I have terrific breasts and the top I chose, while definitely testing the tensile strength of the straps holding it up was in question, I looked good. The shorts come up high enough to cover the part of my abdomen that I hate, but still accentuated the hourglass waist I have. I shrugged my shoulders in the “whatever” fashion, and went outside and got into the pool.
I read an article on HuffPost Women, asking the age old question: do you have a bikini ready body? Basically, what it came down to was, do you have a body? What about a bikini? Okay, then! All set! Gone is the idea that you must look like models on the cover of Sports Illustrated and enter the notion of just wear what you want to wear. So I did.
I’m not saying I’m free of the shame I feel of my body, because ha ha, good one, but I do feel less intimidated by it. I still want to lose weight, but not because I need to to fit in, but for health reasons.
So, if anyone comes over to use the pool and sees this Amazonian woman lounging in the pool, wearing a skimpy bikini top, I make no apologies. Just hop in and swim with me.
But if you try to untie the string in the back, I’m going to punch your face.
As always, thanks for reading.