I have a confession to make. While I’ve been working really hard on loving and accepting my body (especially after having the Little Mister in late 2011), the one area I have struggled with immensely has been how my body looks on the beach.
In bathers (otherwise known as togs or swimmers or whatever you like to call them).
While I would love to say with confidence that all I need to do to have a beach body for summer is to have a body and take it to the beach in summer, I know that I haven’t been able to get myself to truly believe it for myself or put it into practice.
The Little Mister was pretty much born a summer baby, so I felt a bit intimidated by the idea of wearing my bathers right away. In our climate, the need to cool down and wear light clothes and get in a pool or swim at the beach is quite a common thing to deal with! While I was far more concerned with getting the hang of having a tiny person to care for and love (priorities of course), the issue did kind of hang around in the background. I remember back to when we had friends over for Australia Day 2012 (the Little Mister was 3 months old). We had big paddle pools set up for everyone – it was a stinker. I eventually got in with my friends. I had a big, floaty t-shirt on and daggy board shorts, while my friends all sat around in their bikinis looking pretty happy and comfy (even the new mums and pregnant ones too). I saw photos later and felt embarrassed. I felt like everyone knew I was hiding. It kind of just doubles the embarrassment factor.
I had stretch marks, some lingering scars from my PUPPP rash (that from a short distance looked like angry chest acne). A paunchy belly. In hindsight, I looked pretty damn good for what I’d been through and the breastfeeding had done wonders for me losing ‘baby’ weight (until I put it back on and then some later on). I really should have thrown caution to the wind and felt comfortable in my bathers, in my own home, around friends who were the last people who would judge me.
But that insecurity is not always rational and we judge ourselves so harshly sometimes, no?
Fast forward to 4 years later, and my scars have faded. My stretch marks are still there, but they have faded a lot too (you’d probably only see them if you were perving reeeeeally hard or you’re in my family/close friends circle). I still have a paunch that wobbles (the Little Mister likes to ever so tactfully jiggle it and laugh). I am a size 12 short arse. I’m not skinny, slim or perfectly toned. If I eat anything at all (which I do because starvation or crash dieting is not an option), I can look like I’m housing a 4-5 month food baby.
But it has been at least 4 long years since I wore nothing but my bathers on the beach or in the pool.
At the start of summer 2015/16, I realised I want to change that. I’ve been working so hard on my Kez Gets Physical self improvement project, that this has felt like a really important hurdle to conquer. I’ve become more comfortable in my skin. More comfortable in my active wear. More comfortable in my every day clothes. But I haven’t yet beaten my fear of being seen on the beach without a thousand cover up items on my body!
Obviously, I believe so much in being sun safe, but I have also been a bit ridiculous because of my worry about my body’s appearance. I want to feel comfortable and I don’t want to freak out about what it will mean if I choose to get in the water (like what do I do with all my clothes and my cover ups and what do I look like and am I being totally awkward right now?). It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but I’m keeping it as real as I can!
I don’t want to swan around like I think I’m Kate Upton or anything. I don’t want to punish myself with ridiculous fad diets and extreme work outs, so I can achieve some kind of ‘ideal’ bikini body. I just want to feel comfortable in myself and be able to do the things I enjoy (especially with the Little Mister) without hinderance from too much extra fabric or crippling self consciousness, thank you!
For Christmas, Mr Unprepared gave me (among other nice things) a voucher for a beautiful local swimwear store. I was so happy that I would have an excuse to remember how to feel good in my bathers again. I hadn’t shopped – joyfully – for swimwear in SO long. It had always been a rushed purchase – “This will do – it will all be covered up by my extra tops and shorts anyway”.
I did a little online browsing for ideas and decided that I should look for a tankini that is quite fitted around the torso (the looser ones look like they’ll be flattering but tend to float up around your chest when you enter the water – learnt that the hard way a while back). I wanted padding in the cups, not so much because I want to look like I have big breastesses (ha!), but because I am weird about flaunting my nips (what a prude – don’t get me started on my fear of camel toe haha). I wanted it to have some built in flattering features, like a little ruching (gathering) in the right spots and wide straps (probably a halter) and a pattern that didn’t make me look like a house. Because I’m not picky or anything!!!
I headed into town (on a really rainy morning strangely enough) and did my best to find that perfect tankini. I told the lady I had forgotten what looks good on me, so I was trying lots of things. I really had forgotten. I feel like swimwear design has come a long way since I last made an effort. Either that or I wasn’t paying attention. Could totally be the latter reason.
I picked out four contenders (pictured above) and got to work in the change room. I took photos of each top as I tried it on. I do this a lot as it helps me to quickly reference something and compare items. It also doesn’t hurt to know how this stuff photographs (let’s be honest).
I found a winner right away. The first top I tried on. It had the perfect small print (in gorgeous colours) to distract from too many lumps or bumps, a halter neck, padded cups and ruching. I didn’t hate myself in it. I actually felt a rush of excitement. Like if I wore this on the beach, I’d feel like a NORMAL PERSON wearing NORMAL bathers. I’d also feel good about the fact that I was wearing something I bought with actual intention and pride in myself. Not just something to hide in or to hide underneath other stuff.
In the name of ‘keeping it real’, here is what it looks like on (with the skirt I wore into the store).
The side view impressed me too! Everything looked smoother and was tucked in nice and tight. Yay! I mean, I may be mistaken for a pregnant person if I’ve eaten too much on any given day, but I am quickly entering a new level of not-giving-a-fuckness about what nosy people might think/say. Yes. Kez is making progress!
I’ve got a way to go in toning and weight loss, of course, but I think that I should love my body for what it is (and what it can do) now too. Life’s too short to hide or sit on the sidelines!
Do you have any body/fitness fears to conquer in 2016?