I hate bathing suit season.
You’d never know it. Every summer, I dutifully put on my bathing suit and take my kids to the pool, the beach, and the water park. I understand that making memories and having fun trumps the fact that I don’t love showing the world that flippity floppity skin around my middle, which sits where my abs used to be.
And yes, I wear a bikini. I went through that skirted tankini phase in attempt to hide my figure flaws but all that fabric that covers your assets weighs about 700 pounds when it’s wet. I’m pretty sure my modest swimwear almost caused a near drowning incident back in 2014.
But I hate bathing suit season. I hate the way my rolls look when I’m lying on my beach chair. I hate it when I catch a glimpse of myself in something reflective and I hate that I mentally criticize myself by thinking stuff like “Ugh, girl. You gotta lay off the Doritos until it’s sweater season again.”
And then I read all the body-positive messages that show up on the Internet this time of year. I am inspired, encouraged, and ashamed of being ashamed.
I read about women like Jasmine “Jazzy” Owens and I hate bathing suit season a little less. Maybe a lot less.
An Instagram photo of Jazzy and her husband holding hands on the beach went viral last week, and it currently has 76K likes. When you check out the affirming caption, it’s so easy to see why:
“Over the years this man has loved every curve, every roll, and every stretch mark on my body. I never understood why! How could he love something that isn’t ‘perfect?’ How could a man who was ‘born fit’ love someone like me? I don’t have a flat stomach, I jiggle when I walk, hell if I run up the stairs too fast my body claps (lmao)!!” Owens writes. “But now I see I do have the ‘perfect’ body!! Every roll, every curve, and every stretch mark is put on me just perfect to make both of us happy!!! I love my body and I finally see why he does too!!”
What do you see in this picture? I see a happy couple, genuine smiles, a beautiful beach … and yes, I notice her husband’s washboard abs because holy six-pack. But you know what? I don’t compare them. I don’t wonder “What’s he doing with her?” I don’t analyze why or how people’s bodies are made differently or age differently. No, she doesn’t have a bikini model body by most people’s standards but she’s obviously confident enough in her own skin to post a picture of herself in a bikini for the whole world to see.
I’m not that confident. I want to be that confident but I’m not.
Owens wasn’t always either. She tells Huffington Post about being a perpetual dieter and how she even once considered weight loss surgery. She talks about how her body insecurities held her back and prevented her from having fun with her family, and how she’s worked hard to accept herself and appreciate who she is — the way her husband appreciates her. The fact that he’s lean has nothing to do with that.
People come in all shapes and sizes.
People love people of all shapes and sizes.
We are our own worst enemies when it comes to body image; and personally, I can’t get enough of these beautifully imperfect, confident women who show the rest of us how it’s done. We all need to stop worrying about what we look like in our bathing suits and just put on the damn bathing suit — and do the things people do in their bathing suits, like swim, soak up the sun, and pose for pictures with the people we love.
Thanks for the reminder, Jazzy. It’s easy to see you are just as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside.
h/t: Huffington Post