So it turns out I have a lot of body shame. And I wish I didn’t, and sometimes I act like I don’t, or convince myself that I don’t, but it boils down to this: there are many things that I believe I can’t wear because of my body. Among these is a bikini that shows my stomach. Or, g-d forbid, bathing suit bottoms that aren’t a skirt or shorts. I own some of these, which I’ll wear in the privacy of my own backyard because nobody will see me in them. And what the fuck is up with that?
I caught myself looking at the girls at the pool today and thinking things to myself like, “She’s too young to be wearing a bikini” and “That top is indecent on her because her boobs are so big!” The whole idea that there are things that are “indecent” on women who have large breasts but that would be fine on a woman whose breasts are smaller is ridiculous, but I can’t stop myself from believing it. You’re showing the same parts of the same flesh, just that on one woman it’s a bit more skin overall, and of course it wobbles more. (Aside: I understand parents who get their large-chested 14-year-old to cover up because they’re worried about their little girl’s safety around older boys and men. I wish it weren’t necessary, but I get it. This girl’s parents obviously didn’t feel that way or maybe it was last year’s suit and they haven’t seen it yet.)
There were two women at the pool, my age or a little older, both mothers, who were wearing bikinis. They didn’t have perfect bodies; they sagged a little and had stretch marks, and their thighs jiggled when they walked. And they were comfortable and they were beautiful. I want to be able to do that. I want to wear the entirely appropriate two-piece that I bought last year and haven’t taken the tags off.
Is it because I was told all the time as a kid and young woman that I was overweight or out of shape; that I couldn’t wear certain things because they were “too tight” or didn’t hide my “flaws”? Is it because a boy and girl in high school said that I was fat and it was “so gross” when I wore tight tank tops? Is it because I’m surrounded by media images of airbrushed women so that even though I know what a real woman looks like, I can’t get past this idea of what we “should” look like? Is it because I’m surrounded by gorgeous and fit people all the time and it’s hard to feel good about my body when I see the comparison? It doesn’t really matter where it comes from unless it helps me get past it, I guess.
I try really hard not to judge other women and most of the time I succeed.
And this summer I’m making a pact with myself to give myself the same treatment. Because I want to believe that I’m beautiful, and right now I absolutely don’t.