This weekend, I looked fear in the mirror and purchased my first bathing suit in ten years.
Swimsuit season is really body shaming season. It’s the time of year that everyone is striving to shrink thick thighs, flatten round stomachs, elongate stocky legs and strengthen skinny arms. The fearless days of running around in your bikini, rolling around in the sand and swimming with pals are over. This pressure of looking sizzling in beach photos brings me back to the lovely age of puberty, a time when I hated my body.
My fear of bathing suits has led me to avoid them since middle school. I have not bought a swimsuit since the 9th grade. Like all women, I have struggled for years with body image. I was bullied (and at times still am) for having large breasts. I sprouted before everyone else and it was noticed. Girls began to examine my breasts in the locker room, sneaking a peek as I rocked a training bra in the fourth grade. I suddenly stopped wearing swimsuits and never attended school trips to the beach and local amusement parks.
It took me TEN years to feel confident enough to not only purchase a bathing suit, but feel excited to wear one in public. Ten years of conversations with my own body and surrounding myself with positive friendships, dodging negative relationships, suffering from strict diets, running on the treadmill and listening to Beyonce albums led to this moment. All of these hateful and happy body thoughts brought me here. Today, I 100% love my body, because I 100% hated it.
My bathing suit experience resulted in the purchase of a Tommy Hilfiger navy blue one piece, with a low scoop back. The suit showcased my figure, but still left me feeling classy as Jackie O. Here are my tips for bathing suit shopping for those that are a little nervous, and those that, like me, are finally ready!
Location, Location, Location
It's easy to get frustrated when shopping for anything that highlights your figure, from prom dresses to bikinis. Therefore, I recommend going to a shop where you've enjoyed positive shopping experiences. I shopped at Century 21, a store where I always enjoy the selection and ambiance. Bonus, the location is right near my apartment, a quick walk home if the experience turned sour.
Swimsuits are as personal as lingerie. You know your body better than your girlfriends, boyfriend and mom. Trust your Karl Lagerfeld intuition.
Pick a day to shop when you're feeling good. A horrible shopping experience could make you feel worse than Jay Z when he first listened to Lemonade.
Pair your star swimsuit with a bomb cover-up for the days when you're feeling quiet confident. It's essential.