Wednesday, June 18

The Bikini Body Myth

"Don't hide your light under a bushel."

In religious context that means don't hide your faith when you go out in society, but let it shine through you. In general terms, it means don't hide that you're good at something or have a good idea because you're shy. In mid June and for the purposes of this blog, it means don't throw some shorts and a T-shirt over your swimsuit because you're embarrassed about your body.

Here's the thing, get over yourself. Elsie of A Beautiful Mess says in her post "Let's Talk About Swimsuits":
Before you start swimsuit shopping, you might as well accept the fact that 100% of women (and humans for that matter) have insecurities. We're not perfect. Swimsuits can be freaky territory, but realizing that we're all in the same boat makes it feel a little safer. So much of how we see ourselves is a mind game anyway. Instead of focusing on what you don't love about your body, give yourself a compliment and a high five. You deserve it!
Her words echo my feelings, she just says it in a sweeter way.

I've been boiling and churning over this subject for the last couple months as summer approached and my girlfriends began the usual weight loss chatter. I saw it in my own mum when she tried to find a dress to wear to my wedding, and my bridesmaids when they started shopping. Have you noticed the magazine headlines that reinforce the idea of an elusive 'bikini body', have you seen the propaganda on the glossy pages or the TV screen? It can be hard for us to recognize this for what it is -- a lie.

There is no ideal bikini body. For reals.

That's not to say that you have to wear a bikini to be true to yourself, or to look fab. By all means, wear what you feel comfortable in and what makes you feel gorgeous. In the summer time I want to feel like a goddess. I hope you want to feel that way too, whatever that means to you. Elsie's totally right, you deserve it. So wear what you want, but if you're making a decision because you're worried about what other people will think of your body, or how you'll look or that problem area, then stop worrying. No one cares about your imaginary (or real) stomach rolls. No one cares about your arm flab or your lack of thigh gap. I am all about being healthy and eating to nourish yourself, but when it comes to western standards of beauty, free yourself from that shit and start praising yourself when you look in the mirror.
An un-retouched candid from my Vacation to Mexico in 2012
For years I struggled to like myself in clothes. I'll give you a tip: reclining naked, everything is perfectly stretched out and there's nothing to give you muffin top and it's not hard to see that every last fatty bit of you is gorgeous. Once we hang fabric on that beautiful curvy shape it's harder to continue with positivity. At least, that's how I struggled. Part of my journey with this blog has been dressing myself as I went from working on my feet to sitting at a desk. I've gained thirty pounds in the last four years and dealt with all kinds of thinly veiled comments. Now I sit at a comfortable weight and although I don't gain, I don't lose (not without changing my lifestyle considerably). Guess what? I'm OK with that. I rather play video games on the weekend then work out, and the trade off is that I don't lose weight. I focus on eating healthily without denying myself, walking, and doing yoga (albeit terribly). Taking pictures of ones outfits means that you get to see what shapes really flatter you and what fabrics and what silhouettes make you look the way you feel and these days I'm very comfortable with how that translates.

Bathing suit season has the power to unravel all that confidence and reduce any girl (no matter her shape) to self pity and frustration.

I keep my confidence through the summer and any beach vacation by purchasing my bathing suits online. This might be strange, but the fact is I know my shape, my measurements and my style and I can easily pick out a flattering bathing suit on the internet without ever having to step foot in a dimly lit change room with a stack of 20 bikinis. There's not much worse then trying on suit after suit and leaving empty handed. I've done that and I'm not a fan. These days I have two black bikini bottoms (one high waisted and one hippy), a couple of bikini tops like the polka dot one from ASOS in the photo above, and a ruched one-piece from JCrew that I splurged on a couple of years ago. I still crave new bathing suits every summer and I can satisfy that with a new top to throw into the mix.
"Sexy at Every Size" Calander from Swimsuitsforall.com

I don't know if this has been helpful, I really hope in some small way it has. The most stressful and painful thing about summer is hearing from my friends that they hate their bodies, that they want to cover their bodies up not because of any good reason (like a religious one perhaps) but because they haven't learned to love themselves.

To borrow from another blogger, Natasha Devon said it all too well in an article published in 2013 for The Independent:
An array of human flesh is on show at this time of year – one of the few times we get to see how diverse the human body really is. Usually, the only people we see naked are at least partially made of plastic. In a world where a lot of teenage boys are blithely unaware of what a real human un-tampered-with breast looks like I can only perceive this as an excellent thing.
To suggest that one’s belly, body hair or tattoo is ‘distasteful’ and should therefore be covered in the name of etiquette is the very worst sort of body fascism. If your children are traumatised by the sight of a fat person in a bikini, a bit of cellulite or a caesarean scar, then may I tentatively suggest that you aren’t raising them correctly. If seeing someone hairy wearing something skimpy renders you ‘unable to eat your lunch’ then I’m afraid my diagnosis is the problem is with your brain, not their body. We are all naked underneath our clothes. We all have a body and few of them are anatomically ‘perfect’. Grow up.
We’re already being bullied into apologising for ourselves on a daily basis by corporations with multi million pound budgets at their disposal specifically allocated to the task of convincing us there’s something wrong with us and we therefore need to buy their shit. Do we really need to additionally bully each other by drawing attention to socially constructed notions of body ‘flaws’ at one of the few times of the year we feel confident enough to say ‘sod it’ and shed our clothes? 
Obviously the answer is no.

So try to love yourself, stop hiding your light under a bushel, loving your body will change your life.  It's not always easy, it shouldn't always be that hard. it is so important to make this a mental change before you step into the change room, other wise you'll always hate what you see there.

It's gonna take a lot of voices to change the message women hear about themselves.

Husbands, fathers, mothers, boyfriends, girlfriends, sisters, brothers -- the words of our loved ones are powerful things so look at the person you love and tell them they're beautiful. I have seen the effect this can have in myself -- hearing from a guy I was attracted to (Nick) that he found me beautiful made a huge difference to my self confidence. Check yourself before you make a comment that might hurt your loved one. Encourage them only. Love them only. The whole world is already telling them they're not good enough, so be the opposing voice.




1 comment:

  1. Seriously encouraging Kait!!! I struggle with body image daily and your honesty and encouragement is motivating and freeing!! Thank you!

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