Who’s Afraid of The Big Bad Bikini?
Sydney has been hot.
Really, really hot.
I was swimming in my mum’s pool a couple of days ago in the crazy 43-degree heat and something strange happened.
I was sitting on the edge with my feet dangled in watching my monkeys play as I looked down to my tummy. I was smiling at my squishy torso with its rolls and stretch marks. With its appendectomy scar and loose skin after housing these two crazy kids madly splashing me. It was a strange feeling of contentment. Strange because I felt completely happy sitting there admiring my ‘imperfections’. A few years ago, there would be no smiles at that belly. There would have been an instant spring to action to flatten out those rolls. I would have gotten straight back in the water. Not because I wanted a dip, but so nobody could look at my disgusting body. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
I think about how different my brain works now. It’s almost like it’s on autopilot to find what I love about my body, not what I hate.
Of course my tummy is squishy when I sit down. Of course I have stretch marks and scars and loose skin. It’s a body, that’s how they are designed. It’s all part of my body story.
A few years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you a single thing I loved about my body. Bit different now though, how much time have you got to hear just how incredible this vessel is?
Shopping for a swimming costume used to be quite a traumatic event. I would have to work up the courage to sacrifice a whole day to find the perfect cut. Flattering, practical and sexy. It would need to flatten my tummy, lift my boobs, be the right colour and cut especially around the hips. It would need to look good without drawing too much attention to this body that I couldn’t stand to look at while I painstakingly tried on costume after costume.
I remember having thoughts of “I could do a crash diet, eliminate carbs, fat and just eat really clean and then I can pull this one off. In fact, I think this cossie calls for a green veggies only cleanse for 5 days.”
I remember feeling out of place in my cossie in primary school. We would head down to Dense Park pool in Epping, and I remember dreading stripping down even back then, at 10 or 11 years old.
What’s really interesting is that regardless of the size of my body there has only ever been one time that I have felt confident in my swimming costume.
That is, once I discovered, and dove into body positivity. Once I took the motivation from how my body looks to what it does. From the size of my pants to the way my body works. I developed a whole new admiration and mindset about the way I look.
I finally realised that I in fact couldn’t hate myself thin and to really look after my body I need to come at it from a place of love and worthiness not disgust and regret. I am worth the time to meal prep and spend the extra money of beautiful nourishing food. I am worth the time to move my body to feel strong and vibrant. I am worth prioritising my self-care and putting myself first for a change however that may look for the day.
Health is so multifaceted. Yes nutrition is important, but so is body respect. Yes exercise is important but not if it’s sucking the life out of you for the sake of calories burned. Health and body size do not automatically go hand in hand.
But Kate, what will they think of me? What thoughts are they going to have about my pasty, jelly belly, bumpy lumpy body in my cossie?
First of all, who is they and why do they matter to you?
I’m not at the beach for random grey nomad or surfer dude or group of teenage girls. I’m at the beach to recharge my own battery to build sandcastles with my kids and make some kick ass memories. What some random person I will likely never speak to or see again thinks about my body means nothing to me. And besides, chances are they are feeling anxious in lycra themselves.
I want you to think about it though, what actually happens if anyone has a thought about your body?
They have a thought and then what?
Absolutely nothing. Nothing will happen after they have the thought.
Just like when you have had thoughts about peoples’ bodies, once it is done it’s done. You have a thought and move on.
Fear keeps us immobilised. Fear of what we will look like, fear of what other’s will think of us and our bodies, fear of not fitting in. Fear stops us from living at 100%. So feel the fear and do it anyway. Do it for your daughter, do it for your mum, do it for your bestie. Be part of the solution to help all women feel good in their skin.
But how do I actually start on this bopo journey you keep harping on about? A practical tip is to start to listen to what you are saying about your body and then learn to reframe. Don’t let those random negative thoughts just wash over you. Listen to them, hear what your ego is saying.
Reframe the “My thighs are disgusting” with “these bad boys carry me every single day and deserve a swim” or the “I’m too fat for this cossie” to “I am grateful for this incredible piece of machinery allowing me to have a swim”.
Image you are responding to your daughter or sister or best friend making these comments about themselves. Thoughts seem very real but they are not always true.
To be honest with you, I couldn’t care less what people think about my body.
Too muscular, cool, don’t care. Big thighs and bum, you got that right. Stretch marks, yep…all my tiger stripes tell a story and remind me that I am here and well enough to be at the beach in my cossie. Fit, you can’t possible judge my fitness by looking at me.
Positive or negative feedback about my body doesn’t have nearly the same sting that it used to. I realise it’s just a thought or an opinion and I’m not going to lose sleep on it anymore.
Some people like big bums and some don’t. Some like long brown hair and some dig a blond pixie cut. Cool. Not my concern. My body is not just for viewing pleasure.
I have way more important things to ponder than whether or not my body goes into a hot or not category.
Your body is not the problem, your body is freaken amazing, it’s the fat phobic diet culture that we live in that makes you feel like your body doesn’t deserve to be in a cossie at the beach.
When we start to challenge those toxic thoughts, amazing things start to happen. Little bit by little bit, you become your own body cheerleader and boy does it give you a buzz. Kinda like falling in love for the first time, except it’s with yourself.
So gorgeous girl, put the dam cossie on. Who cares if you don’t look like a Victoria’s Secret model jumping over waves on the white sand. Life is way to short to sit this one out.
If you are looking to heal your relationship with food and with your body, check out The Wonder Woman's Guide to Diet Freedom. Awesome practicle tips to help you step away from diets and self loating to living at 100%.