I have never felt worthy of wearing a two-piece swimsuit.
From an early age, we are encouraged to disassociate ourselves from our bodies. We start to carve it up into different parts so that we can evaluate and compare: my butt, my stomach, my arms, my thighs. They aren’t you; instead, they’re projects to be worked on, or failures to be ashamed of.
Even as a kid, it was my stomach that received most of my ire. Since before puberty, I disliked the way it looked. I remember looking in the mirror as a child and hoping that I would grow taller soon so that it would stretch out and look slimmer. It makes me so sad to think about that.
Unfortunately, this issue did not resolve itself with puberty. When I was diagnosed with scoliosis, my orthopedic surgeon let me know that this condition accounted for some of my lack of waist definition. Though surgery (in which my spine was quite literally stretched out) did help, I can’t say that this made me feel better about myself or my midsection.
I won’t recount my long and troubled history with my body right now, but suffice to say I’ve had my ups and downs, both in size and body image. I’ve managed to overcome many of my worst compulsions and dysmorphic thoughts.
But I’ve never really made peace with my belly, as much as I hate to admit it. I still disassociate. I still wonder why, despite my overall great health and fitness, it doesn’t look like other women’s.
And that is the strange thing. I truly think women of all sizes are beautiful. I LOVE seeing a non-model in body-conscious clothing. I’ve always felt that one of the coolest things about women’s bodies is the variety of beautiful shapes they come in. I see incredible beauty in the thin and lithe, and just as much in the curvy and soft. It’s the differences that are beautiful.
But I could never apply that thinking to myself completely. My scoliosis gave me an excuse. My ribs jut out at sharp angles, my torso is short, I am deformed.
It was recently when I came across pictures of plus size blogger Gabi Fresh in her adorable bikini that I realized how insane this line of thinking is. My body is me. It will be with me forever. I can spend my life denying the reality of this, or I can accept it and love it and see the same beauty in it that I surely would if it were someone else’s.
I thought this was a lesson I had already learned. I’ve been saying those words to myself for over a decade. But after seeing those pictures and toying with the idea of making a bikini for myself, I realized how much useless shame I am still carting around.
So all this is to say: We’re going to Palm Springs this month and I am making myself a two-piece swimsuit.
Because I don’t want to be that woman. I don’t want the shame. I don’t want the secret wish for conformity. I don’t want to feel almost-but-not-quite-good-enough.
I want the cute swimsuit.
(Next week, I’ll share some of my swimsuit inspiration as I dive into this project. Also, isn’t that vintage suit above adorable?)