It’s here! (at least in the northern hemisphere). Summer Time. Long hot days. Grilling out. Vacations. No school. And sadly, for many of us, bathing suit fears.
But your bathing suit fears don’t have to steal your joy this summer!
A client recently told me, “I saw a woman wearing a bikini. She didn’t have a perfect body, but she didn’t care. I wish I could be as brave as her.”
Of course I could relate. I remember watching others doing so many things I longed to do. But didn’t feel brave enough for. And it wasn’t just about wearing certain clothing. It was about eating delicious food. Speaking my mind. And yes- wearing a bathing suit in public.
They all just seemed so terrifying.
But what I didn’t realize as I watched others live a life I longed for, is they may have once been scared too. There was only one difference between them and me. They DID these things despite their fear. It wasn’t that they weren’t afraid. They just did it anyway.
My mentor Isabel Foxen Duke explained this so well:
We don’t overcome our fear before taking action. We overcome our fear by taking action.”Isabel Foxen Duke
So if your goal is to feel comfortable wearing a bathing suit, the first step is simple.
You must DO IT.
Not just once. No, to overcome fear, you have to keep doing it. Over, and over, and over again. Until it doesn’t feel as scary.
If you want to feel confident in a two piece, you have to start wearing a two piece. If you want to lounge at the pool in just your suit, you have to take off your cover up.
Literally the only way to get over your bathing suit fears is to confront them head on. Do the thing you’re most afraid of.
The good news is- once you do this enough times, you’ll realize it isn’t the end of the world. And the fear lessens.
Why should we even confront our bathing suit fears?
The truth is all bodies are valid. All bodies are OK just as they are.
And all bodies have a right to exist.
All bodies deserve to be in the sun enjoying the water.
Our bathing suit fears stem from a deep rooted belief that our bodies are not ok just as they are. This is a lie we have been brainwashed to believe.
If someone is judging you for your body- that’s on them. It’s about their own fat phobia. I know it hurts. And it’s hard. SO hard. But true recovery comes from learning that our own sense of being “ok” doesn’t come from getting approval from others. It must come from the inside.
I’m angry that we live in a world where people are taught to hate their own bodies. Weight descrimination is a system of oppression that literally values smaller bodies over larger ones. This system gives privileges to people just based on their size. The flip is the oppression people in larger bodies receive. It’s so messed up that we’re taught to literally rank people’s bodies as well as their social power based on their pants size.
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed living in such a fatphobic world. But I’m convicted in my beliefs. I do not agree with judging others based on their size, color, gender, race, or any other identity. And I’m no longer willing to participate in my own oppression or the narrative that I should cover up my body. The BS story that my body needs to be flawless. And small. And that’s why I believe facing our bathing suit fears is so important.
Little eyes are watching
Another reason I believe in doing this work has to do with little eyes that are watching me. As the mother of three boys, I want my children to learn to respect all women and men. Of every size. And I want them to respect their own bodies.
And it’s not just my own children watching. I have nieces. And nephews. Friends with kids. Maybe you aren’t a parent, but you have a younger sibling. Or cousins. Whoever is watching you- don’t you want them to have at least one person in their lives that lives free from body hate? I know I want my younger family members to see that experiencing joy, self love, and freedom does not depend on body size.
Below the bathing suit fears
Another benefit of facing our bathing suit fears goes deeper. Below our fears of donning a swimsuit lie deeper anxieties. Ask yourself this question, “What am I afraid will happen if I wear a bathing suit?”
Typically the roots of body image fears lie deep in feelings of being unlovable, unworthy, and unaccepted.
We’re afraid that by exposing our bodies we’ll ultimately be judged. Rejected. Hurt. Of course we fear this. Noone wants to be shunned by their peers. But the truth is- our worth as human beings does not come from a certain shape or size. We are inherently valuable. Inherently deserving of love. And while, yes, some people will judge us by our looks- not everyone will. Personaly I strive to surround myself with friends who share the same values I carry. To love and accept others based on their souls, NOT based on their bodies.
Don’t forget about yourself!
The last reason I think it’s important to face our bathing suit fears is selfish. I want to enjoy my summer. To hold onto memories of laughing and splashing in the pool with my kids. Sharing a cold beverage with my friends. Cnnecting with my partner. I want to literally relax as I lay beside the pool. Because I simply can’t lose one more day of my life to diet culture and fatphobia. I know that life is about so much more.
We all deserve to be present and feel joy in the moment. Without body hatred bringing us down.