BIKINI BODY CONFIDENCE | Swim Wear Series Part 1
WARNING: You are overly sensitive, don't read this post.
About five years ago I wore my first bikini since I was three years old. I was inspired by other plus size bloggers and plus size models to go there. To challenge myself. To step out of my comfort zone and wear something that I always thought wasn't meant for a fat body like mine. It was totally liberating, exciting, and I loved every moment of it. I promised myself I would wear more bikinis in future, and try to get my super white tummy tanned. So that same summer, I went a bit crazy and bought lots of bikinis. Only they never got worn. (Until now). I hadn't been to a pool, or a beach, since that day, and there are not many other places you can wear a bikini to, so that's why they ended up in my swimwear box gathering dust at the top of my wardrobe all of this time.
Fast forward to last week, and I made plans to go to a pool with some friends at the weekend. Naturally, I reached out for my swimwear box. I thought carefully about what to wear as I went through all it's contents. I always like to look as cute as I can in my personal life, and when I am being sociable, no matter where I am going. So the pool was no exception. In the box, there was a mix of one piece swimming costumes and a lot of bikinis - especially bikini tops. I wondered if they would still fit me after so many years. I wondered if they did, if they would suit me, and I thought about what I might do if they didn't still suit or fit me. And as I went through it all, a slight sensation of dread came over me.
I wish I could write this post and talk about how the only option I had in mind to wear to the pool, was a bikini. And how when I wore it I felt fabulous and confident. How when I arrived at the pool, I instantly stripped down to my bikini, strut my stuff, jumped into the water, and sunbathed without a care in the world. I wish I could tell you how liberating it felt this time around as well. But I can't. I fought with myself over the decision. Do I wear one of these bikinis, or do I play it safe with a one piece? I spent ages trying on different things at home beforehand, and as I stood in front of the mirror, for ages, I cruelly dissected every part of my body. 'But I don't have a tiny waist and big hips! Or even just a well defined waist! My tummy isn't flat. My behind isn't round and lifted enough. I'm not as firm as I used to be. Am I starting to get cellulite? I never had cellulite before! I don't have a thigh gap, so does this mean I can only wear trousers to the pool? I can't be dealing with painful chub-rub at the pool - or anywhere! The strap on the back of the top half this bikini is too thin, and it cuts into me, creating new rolls where I normally don't have any. My arms are chunkier than they were, and not as firm as they used to be. Why am I not doing the trick my ballet teacher taught me as a teenager to keep my arms thin? I know the secret to thin arms, and I let my arms get big! The cleavage is too exposed. I should know better than to wear anything this low cut as a busty girl. All the pervs are going to be looking at my bust. Ewww. What else can I wear though, when everything in this box is so low-cut! I'm going to get gawked at for all the wrong reasons! But they don't make high neck swimsuits - and if they do, I've never seen them anywhere. And in any case, I don't have the right body type to pull off this bikini malarkey! I'm going to look like a stuffed sausage in a bikini by the pool! What was I thinking when I wasted money on all of these bikinis? It's not like I'm rich and all of this was dirty cheap...' And so on. And so on. And so on. These observations about my body, weren't a revelation to me. I know I'm not an hour-shape or a pear-shape. I also know I am not rich. These bikinis (that day) were all a few years old. Nothing was new, just unworn. Nothing about them was making me poorer. All of those thoughts were coming from a place of negativity, and it made me wonder how genuinely I had, or hadn't, made peace with my body over the years. This is not the thought process of a confident person, at any size. Sure, I had a much more confident stance on my body image these days, and I hadn't had a fat-day* in many years. However, for some reason, the prospect of wearing a bikini in public, freaked me out. I just... I don't know what got into me...
*fat-days is what I call those days when I felt that being fat meant I had nothing to wear, and I just felt absolutely dreadful about myself, my looks, my clothes, etc. It often led to tears, frustration, and even just staying home until it passed.
You can hide most of the things you don't like about your body under regular clothes in many ways. You can wear shape wear, choose certain cuts, certain colours, certain prints, and even certain fabrics that you feel are flattering on your body. You can create an illusion that can make your body look more like what you would rather your body looked like. You can even do a fair bit of that with a one piece bathing suit. You can't hide any of that in a bikini. In a bikini, you are exposed, and I suddenly felt the fear of public exposure. My tummy has always been an area that I have both disliked, and felt deeply insecure about. Was the idea of exposing any part of my tummy at all the reason I suddenly went into melt down? Even is such high waisted bottoms? I honestly can't be sure.
All I know is, that that fear, was very real, almost paralysing, irrational and unexpected. I almost lost my nerve and chose the one-piece. It was a simple black one, with a low cut v-shape at the front. It's not frumpy of anything. It's a perfectly acceptable 'elegant' fat-girl-appropriate sexy bathing suit. It would also look elegant and sexy on a thinner woman. It's just very safe, and very acceptable, and I really needed to push myself. If I felt that level of fear at just the idea of wearing a bikini again, then I had to face that fear in reality, and go with the hardest choice. That's how I deal with my fears. I face them. If I am ever afraid of anything, I confront it until the fear subsides. I had to wear a bikini to go to the pool. There was no other choice for me at that point.
What I am about to say next, will sound really stupid, and really obvious; but you know what? It's so true. There were ALL types of bodies at the pool that day. And I mean literally, ALL body types imaginable. I was nothing extraordinary in a good way or a bad way. Only God knows why I was expecting there to only be thin girls who looked like Victoria's Secret's models or something wearing two piece swim suits, and the rest of us 'mere mortals' were going to be sat there in frumpy one pieces and hiding under giant sarongs. Maybe I just need to get out more. And just the record, a one-piece does not necessarily have to be frumpy!
(I even have some one-piece posts coming up this summer, so stay tuned for that!)
I just wish it hadn't been so much of a struggle for me to just get on with it. I still played it safe with a high waisted bikini that I could always pull up or roll down, so maybe next time I need to be a bit more daring yet, and wear a regular bikini bottom. It's all about what you are comfortable with. I want to be 100% comfortable in my own skin, without any if's or but's. I want it to be unconditional. There is no right or wrong way to dress to the pool or the beach. Life is too short to worry about things that are temporary. Get out there and live life, and share your precious moments with the people who deserve it.
I will be doing more swimsuit posts since I have a whole box of them (plus some new bits and bobs I treated myself to in the sales), and I plan to get swimming on a pretty regular basis this summer! So stay tuned for both bikini and one-piece inspiration posts over here!
Until next time, stay true to you and be blessed!
*The top half of the bikini wasn't originally a halter neck. I just cut the straps from the back, and then tied it around my neck. I found it felt more secure and looked more flattering that way.
*I have naturally curly hair which doesn't really curl much anymore, - or at least not all over, - because I straighten it so much in winter, that when summer comes, the heat damage means less defined curls. I find braids are a cute and elegant way to keep my hair in check while still looking good. Although this style is super quick and easy to do, it looks complicated, and people tend to assume you spent ages making your hair look pretty, when you didn't. (wink wink) Check out my Instagram account for more cute curly hair updo ideas for the summer.
High waist bikini bottom (Size L) - Calzedonia (old)
Bikini top (105) - Calzedonia (old)
(Calzedonia still sells these high waist bikini bottoms and these larger bikini tops as well. And, they have a sale on at the moment, so it might be the perfect time for you get some if you want to)
Gummy sandals - Mary Paz (old)
Black and white Sarong - El Corte Inglés (old)