My Beach Body
By: Sarah Van De Weert
I think that every woman on the planet dreads summer for one reason, and one reason only--swimsuit season. Every woman that I have met, regardless of her level of body acceptance, has some insecurities arise when it comes time to shed her clothes and don a swimsuit to head to the beach or the pool for the day.
As summer begins, more and more women are headed off to stores in search of the perfect swimsuit, the one that will hug their curves in all the right places, that will hide each and every flaw, that will erase all insecurities they have about their bodies. Upon arriving at the store, each woman is in turn disappointed by the fact that no such swimsuit exists, and usually, whether or not a bathing suit is purchased that day, every woman will leave feeling horrible about her body because it doesn't look attractive in a swimsuit.
This happens to women (and men, too, probably, although I can't speak from personal experience there) regardless of if they have a history of eating disorders and body image issues.
Society as a whole puts so much pressure on women to have the perfect beach body. From the first of January, almost every woman's magazine is filled with tips on how to lose weight and get in shape for summer. Tabloids like to point out the stars who have the best and worst beach bodies. Even the fashion industry adds to this idea of looking perfect in a swimsuit, adding things like 'tummy control' and more padding so women's breasts look bigger (not to mention the majority of swimsuits are designed for attractiveness and functionality practically goes out the window).
Every year for many years, I have spent my time in bathing suits feeling self-conscious and insecure because I thought I did not have a beach body. Most days, I wore a one-piece because I wanted to avoid being judged for my stomach. I have never been able to enjoy any time spent in and around the pool or the ocean because I was too busy comparing myself to this perfect beach body ideal and counting all the ways that I did not measure up.
If I was uncomfortable in years past, I am more so this year. I am more insecure than ever right now, having just been weight restored. But I'm not letting my bathing suit insecurities get in the way of enjoying my summer, and it's not because I have suddenly decided to love my body unconditionally (I'm still far from that!). It's because I am refusing to believe the lies fed to me by society that tells me I have to look a certain way in order to be accepted in my swimsuit.
There is no 'right' or 'wrong' way to look when wearing a bathing suit. There is no perfect bikini body, no rules about who can wear a two-piece and who must always wear a one-piece, and definitely no requirement of needing to be sexy and beautiful to wear a swimsuit at all.
All of us are born with beach and bikini ready bodies... All that is necessary is to put a bikini on our bodies and take ourselves to the beach!