I have not always been self-conscious about my looks (besides the normal teenager stuff). I had a great body 2 years ago. I was a size small, 32 C, I wore a size 2 in pants, and had 6 pack abs. Then I got pregnant with baby number 2. My son is a blessing in my life, but after having him, I was so self-conscious about my body.
When I had my son, I went from a size small to a size large. I could barely fit into a size 8 dress for my Mary Kay events. I went up to a 36 DDD (yes, I was breastfeeding, but still it is hard to be that big up there). I was told by everyone that I looked great for just having a baby. “Most people would kill to be a size 8 right after having a baby.” Well, not when just 9 months ago you were teeny tiny. I know it sounds vain, but I am putting my feelings out there, so NO JUDGING! I watched girls who went back to a size zero 2 weeks after having a baby. It was hard. I cried in the dressing room trying on clothes for months. I wasn’t big by any means, I was just different.
I have now gone down to a size 4 and wear a small/medium top. I am proud of where I am now, so I thought, “Hey! I am going to wear a bikini this year.” Joe responded with, “You wore a bikini last year, so what is the difference?” The difference?? Last year was a high-waisted bikini. This year is a real, legitimate skin showing bikini. So, off to Academy we went in search of the perfect bikini. I tried on suit after suit and was so dissatisfied with what I saw in the mirror each time. “I only need a few more months to get my body ‘bikini ready’. But by then, summer will be over. I might as well not even buy one.”
I wasn’t upset with the bikinis, but the way they looked on me (and the sizes on the tags). I was in an XL top and medium bottoms (reminder: 2 years ago I was a size small). So, we went home without a swimsuit and I cried.
And then started the self-induced body shaming. I have belly flab. My skin has so much cellulite on my belly. And my back fat is terrible. Don’t even get me started on the stretch marks on my hips, butt, and sides. All of those bikinis dug into me in all the wrong spots.
It boiled down to one thing… a society that teaches body shaming. I wasn’t really scared of wearing my bikini. I was scared of what others would think of me while wearing it. We have made body shaming a popular trend and now everyone is scared of what others will think of them.
Then, I started thinking, why am I really so upset with my body? It carried 2 beautiful children into this world. I am older than I was when I had Izzy. I am not large by any means. My skin just doesn’t bounce back the way it used to. The stretch marks really aren’t that bad, and they have faded a lot. The sizes on the tags don’t matter, I mean I am still breastfeeding (hence the XL top on my medium figure). I am happy with my body. Why can’t everyone else be?
We loaded up in the car and went to Academy, again. I decided I would not leave that store without a swimsuit. Izzy wanted one too. She tried on like 40 of them and with each one, she admired herself in the mirror, totally in love with what she saw. She bounced around giggling and talking about which 10 she liked the best! We finally narrowed it down to one and she loved her choice.
Great! My turn… I stood there looking at the dozens of choices. I picked 4, maybe 5 to try on. Iz went into the dressing room with me. I tried on the first one, a strapless top. It dug into my chest and made my back look bulgy and weird. It was awful. I was embarrassed to have her in their witnessing this. “Oh, Mama! It looks beautiful!” “Really Izzy?? I think I look like a cow. Haha!” So, I tried on the next one. “Oh gosh! This one is worse than the last.” Izzy remarked, “Your butt won’t fit in that one! Hahaha!” My pride hurt a little. So I tried on the next, which I really liked. “Your back is lumpy in that one. And I see your boobs. Heeeheee!” Ouch!
I tried on one after the other and listened to Izzy’s comments get worse and worse. I finally decided on one and I was ok with my choice. It was the one I really liked, but then Izzy’s comment made me kind of regret my love of it. I couldn’t be mad at her though. I taught her to react to my body that way. I taught her to react to every body that way. She thinks that is how you are supposed to view yourself. I didn’t realize that until after I finally left the store.
I am here to say, let’s stop this cycle. Let’s stop worrying about what others will say and think. Let’s bring back confidence. Let’s instill our daughters with positive body image and confidence. Let’s bring back the thought that every single body is a beautiful, unique creation. If you are not happy with you, make sure that is your decision and not someone else’s.
You have a stunning body. Make sure you step out at the lake, or the beach, or the pool, or wherever that bikini takes you with confidence and say “Screw You,” to anyone who wants to take that confidence from you. My body isn’t perfect, but it is mine and I am proud of each stretch mark and cellulite dip!
It took my 8 year old body shaming me over some swimsuits to realize that something has to change. And it begins with us.
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