This year I made a decision. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time, and it’s taken a lot of courage to finally get here. But this summer, I made that decision. I took Allan with me, and went out to buy my very first bikini.
I’ve always been uncomfortable with my self image; never felt good enough in my own skin. Even from being an elementary and middle school girl, I compared myself to everyone around me. I wasn’t pretty enough, skinny enough, smart enough, or interesting enough. I knew I was creative and bossy (since these were the two things I was constantly told about myself), but was that enough? As I got older, I got better at recognizing who I was. Seeing my own potential. It took a long time to be able to recognize that I might not be math or science smart, but I was art smart and learned things in my own way. I had friends who thought I was great and enjoyed my quirky jokes and late night rants.
But the body image issues stuck. It seemed like whatever life decisions I made (diets, gym trips, staying ultra active at camp) I felt worse about my body, and nothing changed. I compared myself with all the people around me, tearing myself down and mentally saying terrible things about myself. And then some things happened. I’m not truly sure when, or where, but sometime last year I got very sick of all the hate speech I was giving myself, and I was incredibly sick of all the shame I was putting on myself.
This year I decided I wanted to buy a bikini. I’ve always wanted to be confident in what I wore. To be confident enough to take risks. So this year I bought a crop top. In fact, I bought two. And when summer season kicked in, I went swimsuit shopping with Allan and bought my first bikini. And something weird happened. Never have I felt more confident in a bathing suit than I do in this bikini. I feel sexy and empowered, and most importantly, comfortable in my own skin.
I made it a rule a couple years ago that I would never photoshop images of my body. Changing the lighting, tweaking colors, brightening some freckles – all fine. But slimming down my body? Or digitally removing my stretch marks? No way. These curves are mine. These stretch marks and scars are mine. And I can be proud of myself, because this beautiful body has taken me through some amazing adventures throughout my life, and has carried me through not only the scary times, but times of self harm and self hatred. She has held me up, kept me walking and breathing and moving, and I am so thankful for her.
Do I want to train and grow my body to be stronger? Absolutely. I’ve always said I wanted to be fit enough to survive at least the first wave of the zombie apocalypse. So at the moment, I’m doing a little bit of endurance training, working my way up to be stronger and faster and (ultimately) more confident. But I no longer want to be a size 2 like I used to. If I don’t lose any weight, but gain muscle and stamina, that’s just fine with me.
Taking the “bikini plunge” this summer was a huge step for me. A huge step in being able to recognize my own worth, my own value, and my own beauty. And I truly feel beautiful in this swimsuit. Stretch marks and all.