Oh Summer. It is right around the corner and we can look forward to all the wonderful things it has to offer. Sno cones, Barton Springs, getting a gorgeous tan line and swimming. But here’s the thing…
I hate swimsuits. The idea of putting on something that resembles underwear and walking around in public gives me hives. I barely can walk around my own house without leggings on so having a swimsuit on and being around people gives me more anxiety than it probably should.
A couple months ago Jacob and I were invited to a dinner with some friends who had just moved into their new apartment. We were so excited to spend time with them, especially since we don’t get a lot of couple time with other friends. Then I got the text… the biggest anxiety filled text message in the entire world… it read, “Y’all can bring swimsuits!”
I panicked. I turned to look at Jacob and said “I am not bringing my swimsuit.”
He looked at me like I was crazy.
“Why not? It’s just going to be the four of us.” He replied. I shook my head back and forth, still adamant that I wasn’t going to be donning my swimsuit in front of anyone and that there wasn’t anything he could do to change my mind.
Looking back it seems a little overdramatic, but if I really think about it, my post-traumatic stress with swimsuits started when I was very young. I remember my early adolescent summer days when I would walk with my little brother down to our neighborhood pool for swim practice- which I hated. I mostly hated it due to the fact we had to wear swimsuits and my nickname among many of my so-called teammates was “thunder thighs”.
Kids can be the worst sometimes. Can you relate?
So thunder thighs and all, I would get up on the diving block in front of everyone and bend over to assume my diving position with my booty in the air every Monday through Thursday for 4 summers in a row until my parents let me quit.
Now, almost 16 years later, I can still feel the burning on my cheeks and hear ugly little thoughts whenever I put on a swimsuit and walk into a pool.
“My thighs are huge,”
“Everyone is looking at my legs”
“See how they dimple everywhere”
“I need to do more squats.”
Basically believing a lie that less weight, less cellulite and less jiggle equaled more beauty, more acceptance, and more love.
As I snapped back into the reality of the moment, I saw Jacob waiting for me by the door. I grabbed my swimsuit and tucked it to the bottom of my bag, “Just in case” I murmured as I pushed past Jacob to get into the car - still not excited that my biggest social fear was about to come true.
But you know what happened? We got to the apartment, we changed into our swimsuits, and no one died.
I repeat - no one died. No one said any comments about my legs - someone actually complimented me on my swimsuit.
I got a compliment guys.
And while I wish I could say that I never thought once about what others were thinking (that is a lie, I was definitely thinking about it), or that I didn’t feel self-conscious the entire time (that is also a lie I felt very anxious at least three times) or that I am completely cured of my swimsuit anxiety (another lie - it takes a lot for me to get a swimsuit on, i.e. you would have to pay me a butt ton of money) I did feel like I inched a little bit closer towards self-acceptance.
Self-acceptance isn’t something that happens overnight, it is a slow and steady process that will take more or less time depending on your story and the wounds that you have. We all have scars and bruises and brokenness when it comes to loving ourselves and my journey is slowly becoming easier with each opportunity I get to hang out with friends in a pool.
So tell me - what is your “swimsuit debacle”? What environments stress you out and how do you work through them?