The dreaded bikini season…
And when I say dreaded, I’m speaking from a “what society tells us” point of view, NOT a “what I believe in my wise mind” point of view.
Because let’s be real- bathing suit season comes with pool days, beach trips, lake life, hose water (one of my favs!), swimming, lemonade, ice cream, fireflies, stars, and the sweet smell of fresh cut grass. It’s fun!
But, I’ll be the first to admit that the thought of getting in a bathing suit this year has been problematic for me. My body in recovery is very different than when I suffered from my eating disorder.
I’m going to rewind to one of the unrealistic, arrogant, and ignorant rules I had for myself when I was deep in my disorder.
Rule: I will always look flawless in a bikini. I won’t be the “normal woman” who has to cover up her body because it is covered in cellulite, fat rolls, and stretch marks.
I bet you had one of three reactions to the rule stated above…
1. “Amen, sister!”
I’m right there with you! All those other women/men can let themselves go, but I am going to be rocking a perfect body until I am in the grave!
2. “I wish I had the perfect body”
I see a lot of people who “deserve” to be in a swimsuit. But I refuse to wear one until I feel confident enough to be seen in public half-clothed. Until then, I’ll just stay in and wait for winter.
3. “What the hell is this girl talking about?”
Fat rolls, cellulite, and stretch marks make me fabulous. I have two words for that rule: Forget that.
After 33 years, I am JUST now realizing how that rule of having to look “flawless” in a bikini was holding me in an unhealthy mindset.
The bikini debate
As I tried on bathing suits recently, I realized how uncomfortable I felt in my own skin. My set point weight (the weight my body wants to be at without any restriction, with healthy and balanced body movement, and with a healthy heart) is a lot higher than when my weight was manipulated by an eating disorder. It has taken some time to make peace with that in clothing. But swimwear is a whole different battle.
As I tried on bikini after bikini, I got more and more frustrated.
I didn’t like how exposed I felt.
I was uncomfortable with my stomach, and I knew that none of these options were going to make for a relaxing pool/beach/lake experience this summer. So, I went home feeling defeated and hopeless.
As I mulled over the hopeless inevitability that I would HAVE to wear a bikini and get over it, something dawned on me:
Why do I feel like I HAVE to wear a bikini?
If I’m more comfortable in a one-piece not exposing my stomach, why not try those options as well?
To do this, I had to separate my ED thoughts from the truth.
Eating disorder thoughts vs. the truth
ED Brain: One piece is for women that don’t look good.
Truth: ALL WOMEN are beautiful. To me, there is absolutely no question about this. Societal standards are crazy unrealistic. And all women deserve to feel confident in their skin.
ED Brain: Everyone else around you will be in a bikini and rocking it.
Truth: No, no they won’t. Lots of women chose to wear one-piece bathing suits for a variety of reasons. And furthermore… who cares? Comparison is the thief of joy. I need to do me and let you, do you!
ED Brain: One-pieces are frumpy.
Truth: Have you looked at an Aerie ad lately? Can you say, “damn!”
There are women of all shapes and sizes rocking some fabulous swimwear regardless of size! The industries are starting (even though they still have a WAY to go) to offer more variety for all sizes. Shop the companies who are including ALL women and men in their designs.
ED Brain: One-pieces are for women who have “let themselves go.“
Truth: Shut. Up. With. That. Nonsense.
Yes, “I have let myself go”- I have “let myself go” into a world filled with joy, connection, laughter, emotions, feelings, and happiness instead of restriction, manipulation, anxiety, loneliness, and seclusion.
If that’s “letting myself go”, then SIGN ME UP over and over again.
After some fact-checking and separating my ED brain from my wise mind, I’ve decided I’m not going to wear a bikini this year. And that’s perfectly fine!
What my body looks like playing in the sand with my kids, dodging the waves with my husband, or sitting and relaxing with a book by the pool means NOTHING. What does mean something are the memories that I will create with my family and friends this summer- in whatever bathing suit I choose.
Instead of comparing bodies with those around you this summer, I challenge you to look for the joy in the faces of those who are truly living their best life in whatever body they have.
THAT is true beauty.
(Last Updated: July 15, 2022)