See what I did there with the title? PPP? Clever, no?
Okay. Am I the only one who is absolutely blown away by the fact that it is already the middle of June in the year 2011? Seriously?! Where has the time gone! Anna Nalick knew what she was talking about when she said, “Life’s like an hour glass glued to the table.” Slow down, life! There is so much of you I want to enjoy before I assume room temperature!
Many of you know I am married to a children’s pastor. If you didn’t, well, I am. Don’t let that scare you off, though! I promise I’m still cool. Watching Veggie Tales and Bridesmaids in the same weekend is totally in bounds for me.
Anyway. It’s mid-June. And June means summer. And summer means pool parties. And pool parties mean bathing suits. Oy vey.
This past Saturday, the hubs threw a pool party for the church that was sponsored by the kids program. Being the good pastor’s wife I am, I woke up supercrazyearly to accompany him to the local pool to help set up. Even though I was tired and cranky, I didn’t mind because I love to support my man. (And there was gonna be free food. Let’s not forget the free food.)
However. I’m not going to lie to you. I had a minor panic attack about being seen in a swimsuit in public. Well, no. I take that back. “Public” isn’t the correct word. “A giant group of non-anonymous people that I have interaction with weekly” sums it up better. I honestly wouldn’t have panicked if I was just going to be seen in “public” because what do I care what the public thinks of me? Ha! I couldn’t care less! If you are some random person on the beach staring at me in my bathing suit judging me and my body, frankly, you should get a life. Or a snow cone. I’m sure you could find a snow cone stand somewhere near said beach. (okaymaybeIcarealittlebitshutup.)
But I care bunches about what people who know me actually think.
You see, when I’m wearing normal clothes, I can get by on merely my wit and candor. It’s quite easy for me to dazzle people with my personality while I’m rocking my usual t-shirt and jeans combo. But something about being almost naked and wet around people I’m familiar with always brings on a whole new feeling of awkward shame. Over the years I think I’ve developed some sort of Pavlovian response to bathing suits that goes a little something like this:
Bathing suit -> people I know see me and find out how awful my body is -> these people decide I am not worthy of love -> super body shame -> discomfort -> sadness.
So as I was getting ready for the pool party on Saturday morning, I was mentally preparing myself for the impending pain. I put on my swimsuit, glanced begrudgingly in the mirror and…
Nothing bad happened.
As a matter of fact, something remarkable happened. The automatic response I was so used to experiencing was replaced by something a little like this:
Bathing suit -> admiration -> comfort in my own skin -> body pride and acceptance -> confidence -> fun.
Ahh! No way! Is that possible? I mean, I’m not a size 0! How can I possibly be okay with my body in a swim suit? Well. Somehow it happened. I even let Dan take a picture of me!
So then. What changed? Well. Probably a number of things. Here’s a list of things that I think contributed to my shameless pool party epiphany:
1. Eating right and working out.
Okay. This is kind of duh. But I know that I make pretty good decisions when I eat and I know that I stay active. So, ergo, I just feel better. I feel healthy. I feel good. And, if I’m doing all the right things to take care of my body, then why be ashamed? That’s what healthy looks like. That’s what happy looks like. And if anyone wants to hate on it, that’s too bad.
2. Even the most judgmental people aren’t as judgmental as you think they are.
The only time my “body” was scrutinized was when Emily pulled me out of the water to show her friend my deformed, bony, misshapen dancer feet. And we can all laugh about that because if you’ve seen my feet, you know they are a hot mess.
3. Life’s too short (and fun) to worry about it.
Saturday morning I realized that there is so much more to life than looking perfect in a swimsuit. Like water slides, for example. You can’t simultaneously have fun on a water slide and look good. No one can do it. Just have fun. It’s possible. I promise!
4. A bangin’ swimsuit. (Thanks, Target!)
The swimsuit I wore was the first one I purchased based on how it looked on me and not what the size label said. Ugh. I actually don’t even know what size it is. And that’s such a relief. Take it from me, people. Don’t purchase bathing suits that are a smidge too small because, “Well it says MEDIUM and I wear a MEDIUM so it fits!” I can understand the fear of labels but the truth is that your “size” label does not matter. Buy and wear a suit that makes sense for your body type.
5. I’ve been doing this a while.
I’ve been on a journey of self-love for a while, and only now am I starting to really notice the changes. If your next beach trip does not result in epiphany, that’s okay. Remember that this is a journey, and not a destination, and you have important milestones throughout the way. You may even have some wrong turns in the process. Will I be as confident on my next beach trip? Maybe, but maybe not. It depends on the day. But the important thing is to keep. moving. forward.
Why do I write this? Because I know I’m not alone. It’s summer, and I know that some of you reading this may experience the swimsuit anxiety attack soon (if you haven’t already.)
It’s summer. It’s dang hot out. And you’re beautiful just the way you are. Don’t be afraid to be comfortable in your own skin.