Last year I don't think I got in a swimming pool one time. I can't remember, but I don't think I did. The summer before, I went to the public pool in our small town a couple times, but grudgingly. I only went so that my kids could go and enjoy it. Oh how I wished I could be one of those parents who swam with their kids, jumped off the diving boards, went down slides... when I was younger I LOVED that kind of stuff and I was willing to wear a two-piece-- with no cover-up! I just feel so much body shame that I only feel comfortable in a swimsuit around my kids- and that's only because they think I'm pretty no matter what (they're young.)
Anyway, two summers ago when I was at our small town public pool, a woman in her late 20s was there with at least one child. She was having fun, jumping in the water, enjoying the beautiful day. This is what I saw: she was wearing a two piece, she had that mommy apron that we all hate, stretch marks on her stomach and was very pale. She was not very heavy-looking, it was just the stomach region that surprised me that she would be comfortable wearing a two-piece in public. My first thought was, "I can't believe someone would wear a two-piece when their stomach looks like that!" Then immediately my thought turned to how I wish I could be more like that woman! She clearly did not worry about what she was wearing or what other people might think- she was there to have fun and enjoy herself, time with her kids, get a good tan... so why should she feel bad about that? Why should she care that there are judgmental people (like I was initially being) who know nothing about her, but will think poorly of her because she chooses to accept her body for the way it is? We should be using her as a role model!
So yesterday was a huge step for me. My daughter earned a trip to the pool for having a great report card, and I couldn't back out on her. So to avoid a hassle with the younger two (and some nasty sunburns,) my husband decided he would stay home with the younger two and I would take the older two. So I reluctantly put on my swimsuit that I don't believe had been worn yet. It was a tankini, but the bottoms were a skirt. The top was made in a way that the midsection didn't cling an there was plenty of coverage up to my armpits. I tossed a dress over the top and out the door we went.
The whole drive to the pool I argued with myself in my head. We now live in the second biggest city in our state, and it is one of the better pools in the city, so I knew it would be packed. This made me feel really nervous that so many people would be seeing me in a swimsuit, but I wanted to lay out and work on a tan while the kids played in the pool. The place WAS packed. As we walked out of the changing rooms into the pool area, I began seeing people of all sizes, ethnicities, heights, weights, builds, complexions, you name it! Sure there were skinny women in bikinis, but there were heavier women in bikinis too. And most of them weren't wearing skirted bottoms that attempted to hide cellulite like I was.
My kids begged me to go with them down the slide the first time because they were shy and a bit nervous. I decided to suck it up, took the dress off and walked up the steps to the slide area, where I took my turn and went down a big, twisting blue slide- and it was FUN. I tried not to think about what the young lifeguards thought as I approached in my bathing suit. I instead tried to think about how excited my kids were that I went down the slide.
After getting out of the pool, I found a chair to lay out on, put my towel on it, put my headphones in, laid back, made sure my swimsuit was all in place, then just enjoyed the peace. Was I feeling self-conscious? Of course. Was I letting it ruin my time there? Not at all! My psychiatrist once told me that if I'm afraid to be out in public for fear that people are judging me, that I should realize that 99% of those people "don't give a shit" about me. I can tell you that at the pool yesterday, I did not know ONE person besides my kids. So why should I care if one of them thinks that I'm chubby, that I have cellulite, that I've got a floppy mommy apron for a tummy... whatevs. There were so many people that were heavier and didn't seem to care AT ALL. They were enjoying themselves.
|These lovely ladies have no body shame- color me jealous!|
I feel like it was a huge obstacle to overcome and I'm nowhere near as confident as the woman in my old town in the bikini, but I just hope one day to get to the point where I can have fun enough in my full coverage swimsuit and not be worrying about what other people are thinking.