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Last week when we were at the pool, my five-year-old daughter asked me when I was going to take off my dress and put on my swimsuit.
I didn’t have it in me to tell her I was already in my swimsuit; a skirt to cover my hips and thighs, fat and flab. So I just got in the water in my “dress,” thankful she’s innocent enough to not know my bathing suit of choice is a direct result of the body shame I suffer from.
There’s a bunch of body positive posts floating around the Internet this summer. How we should strip down and swim with our kids. No more sitting on the sidelines. Let it all hang out, literally.
But this isn’t one of those posts.
I’d love to tell you I ripped off my skirt, did a swan dive, and washed away my body image disorder for good—but that’s just not the truth. I wasn’t ready to do that, and that’s okay.
Because I didn’t let my body stop me from being with my kids. I just found a way to make myself comfortable while doing so. And if that’s with a skirt on, so be it. Who cares? I’m still there and I still ate a cheeseburger poolside.
Culture has taught women to compare. To look to our left and right for reassurance instead of looking inward. I’ve got a lot of work to do to unravel the ideas I’ve been taught about beauty. One day I’d love to consider my cellulite and scars markers of strength instead of areas to be shamed away.
But until I get there, I’m also trying to model for my daughter what confidence and comfortability are. If I convinced myself to wear a bikini just because that’s what body positivity is defined as, then I’ve compromised my internal voice yet again.
Instead, I chose to wear something that let me move freely around the pool. To crouch down and pick up toys. To feel like I’m seen by my family, but not on display. Maybe it wasn’t the most fashion forward choice, but in this season of my life, I am simply trying to become a woman who listens to herself.
And maybe that’s the first real step in moving toward body positivity. If we all collectively decided to wear what we wanted, unapologetically. If we learned to trust our bodies. To feed them when they’re hungry. To allow them rest when they’re overworked.
To wear the swim skirt or the string bikini.
And assign beauty to both.
to more love,