My friend Carla wrote an awesome post about only needing 2 steps to get a bathing suit body.

These are the steps to a bathing suit bod I want for my Tornado of a girl.

  1. Put on swimsuit.
  2. Hit the beach.

Click here to read her whole post. 

I didn’t tell her I was going to write a response because I didn’t want to be influenced by our offline conversation.

My immediate,  honest,  gut reaction after reading her post was,

Well, that’s easy for you to say. You have an amazing body. You’re lean, muscular, fit. There isn’t an ounce of fat on you!

I know how that sounds, believe me! I’m sure people will think something similar about me.

We all think it’s easy for everyone else, don’t we?

It all comes down to perspective and it’s not that I don’t agree with her. I just think it’s a bit more complicated.

Oh my Lord, how I WANT to simply agree. I want it to be that easy. I want to feel that comfortable in my skin and I’m closer than I’ve ever been to getting there, but it’s NOT as easy and simply putting on a suit and going to the beach.

I’ve been blogging about my weight and body image issues for almost 9 years, which is only part of my journey of getting to where I am (physically, mentally and emotionally) today. By the time I was 12 years old my bathing suit body was already being covered by T-shirts. Through my teen years I wouldn’t have been caught dead on the beach without shorts and a top. Easing into my 20s shorts started to even become scarce. I remember working one summer in Florida the year I turned 21. I wore jeans every day. IN FLORIDA.  IN THE SUMMER.

That is how much I hated my body.

If someone told me then the solution was to simply put on a suit and go to the beach I would have laughed in their face. Then, that night, I would have cried myself to sleep.

So for as much as I want to agree, I can’t. It’s taken me a LOT of experience, growing-up and self-therapy (mostly through this blog) to get to place where I can put on a bathing suit with some confidence. To say it’s as easy as putting on a suit and just being happy with yourself minimizes the amount of work I think some of us need to do. And I don’t mean dieting! I mean deep down, nitty gritty, soul-searching kind of work and that can take some time.

Last year I wrote my Exposed update and it took a lot for me to share a photo of me in a bikini. A lot. And since I’m being honest, I can’t really look at those photos without tearing myself apart.

I have always admired confident people. People like Carla who are unapologetically themselves. People who frolic on a beach regardless of what they look like, seemingly without a care in the world. And I don’t mean to minimize Carla’s experience, feelings or the message she is trying convey because I really do think it’s possible to change our culture surrounding women and their bodies. However, for many of us the damage has been done.

It’s not that I don’t think we can’t get past it. I know we can but the steps may look more like this and span some time…

  1. Stop equating body shape/size with happiness. Remind yourself of this daily. 
  2. Start pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Start small (wearing a tank top worked for me) and build confidence. 
  3. Work on becoming more comfortable with your body by DOING things instead of worrying about wearing things. 
  4. Try to remember most people could care less what you look like because they are too worried about what they look like. <– Always helps me at the beach. 
  5. Channel your energy into living life to the fullest. 

One of my favorite posts I’ve shared to date was simply this one….

click here – And the fact that it inspired these reactions still brings tears to my eyes.

Listen, if you are inspired by Carla’s post and have the ability to simply put on a bathing suit without any baggage regardless of what you look like, I admire you more than you will ever know. Actually, I envy you. For those of you who share my struggle, we’ll get there. We will.

It’s possible.

 
  • carla birnberg

    OH HOW I LOVE THIS and your honesty and the fact you KNOW I’d never ever be offended even if you wholly and utterly DID NOT AGREE.
    For me it is all born of my daughter. I wont say out of fear. I WONT SAY OUT OF WORRY (as I see that act as praying for what I do not want.).
    I shall only say out of…joy.
    The joy I see in her face when the OPPORTUNITY to yank on a bathing suit and frolic ANYWHERE presents herself.
    There’s no fretting.
    There’s no worry.
    There’s no wondering who will see her and who will look to see if she measures up.
    There’s just the potential for play, and sand and dragging friends in to get wet in their clothes and FUN.
    And I wish that for all of us—from 8 to 80.
    And I pray–with worry and yes with fear—hers lasts.

    xoxox

  • ItsMeVsMe

    I love the crap out of the two of you.

    I, too, can’t stand to go to the pool/beach without something on over my swimsuit. Half the time, I never even wear a swimsuit because I have no plans of getting in the water.

    I have to stop myself from telling Emma she needs to cover up as we walk to the pool. She asked me once, “Why do I need to put on shorts and a shirt over my swimsuit?”

    I had no answer. I told her that she could do what ever she felt comfortable doing. And she didn’t question it when I put on my cover up over my suit.

    We’ve got one of each living in this house…and that’s o.k. with both of us.

  • http://www.brooklynactivemama.com Nellie

    you guys are so amazing. Is it possible to agree whole heartedly with BOTH posts? I am also working on feeling super confident in my body but unfortunately that seems like a long time away, but like you I am getting there. However, Carla made me feel like I could go get me a two piece and make it happen on the beach this summer. :) I am the queen of cover ups and the pressure to get fit before I have to put on a swimsuit is just insane.

    Anyway, thank you both.

  • Coco

    I’m sure people will take this the wrong way, but one thing that helps me at the beach is looking at everyone else on the beach. At least the beaches I go to are full of normal people of all shapes, sizes, and ages. I think realizing that very few people live up to whatever ideal we are holding ourselves to helps shatter the hold of that false ideal.

  • Jeanette @ For Life

    Thanks for this post- I liked Carla’s post, but it didn’t quite ring true to my own experiences. You articulated the other side of the issue well.

  • debraroby

    I know it doesn’t help you for me to say you look fabulous in those bikini photos. That all I see is a incredibly fit woman without any unnecessary body fat on her.

    I know through the filter of your life you see something completely different. Hope that the more you work, the more you see what the world sees.

    • RoniNoone

      Thanks Deb. :)

  • Tamara Grand

    I find this conversation so interesting, as I agree with Carla on an intellectual level, but also know that the clothing I decide to wear on a daily basis is affected by how I’m feeling about my body that day.

    What makes no sense to me is how comfortable I am in form-fitting athletic clothing that shows every square inch of my body, but how an ill-fitting pair of jeans can still do a number of my head. Great response!

  • Jody R. Goldenfield

    I love this post Roni along with Carla’s BUT I am more in line with your thoughts on this… funny cause I am sure people think I would love to hit the beach in a bathing suit – at 56, it is not all you see in pics BUT I am proud BUT also, like you, I started young disliking the body & myself – when I was heavy, when I got teased, things in life that happen to make you feel you will never be enough & like you wrote – “However, for many of us the damage has been done.” Thank you for this! I hope we all get there but my feelings still are that media never will get there & women & girls will fight this their whole life…

  • clare @ fitting it all in

    such a well thought out response!! love the two of you and the conversation you’re starting.

  • Kim

    I used to be self-conscious wearing a bathing suit, but honestly no one seems to really look at me while wearing one. Everyone is just doing their own thing and not paying attention to self-conscious me. It’s sort of like how I was worried about people judging me when I started running, but I soon realized that I didn’t really care what people thought and I don’t think other people even paid attention to me.

    • RoniNoone

      I totally agree! And I think that’s easy to see as you get older. At least for me.

  • Leigh Anne

    Well, see I would disagree that you disagree Roni. Because I’m fairly certain you would want those to be the only two steps to a bathing suit body for everyone. Which is all that Carla said. That she wants it to be that simple for her always.

    I’m working on myself to get to that point. I know I’m at the point that I won’t let my insecurities keep me from playing in the water with my girls. But, like you, I think I will always feel somewhat self conscious about what I look like in my suit. Does that stop me from hoping my daughters will always be two steps from a beach body? Hell, no :)

    • RoniNoone

      You are right, I don’t disagree. I’d love ALL of us to get there but as I was reading it (and to be fair I’ve seen this idea before, it wasn’t carla specifically that brought out this reacttion as she was really relating it to her daughter) I couldn’t help but think, what is wrong with me? Why isn’t that easy? It SHOULD be, that’s for sure but it’s not and I know I’m not alone in feeling that way.

  • Eileen

    I almost posted yesterday but decided to think on it for a bit. I think sometimes we over complicate things. If we think about people that dye their hair to cover up grey — they do it because they like it and it makes them feel better when they look in the mirror (I actually have never colored my hair, but now seeing grey creep in, am thinking about it). Being grey is more natural than being an unhealthy weight but people still color their hair to cover it — because they like it and like how they look and it translates into confidence. People with “roots” might choose to wear a hat or something to cover that grey until they can color it again. People who don’t feel comfortable exposing that much of their body might choose to cover it.

    Like you and the author of the other blog, I’ve lost weight. I read your blog (and others) to keep my thinking about all the many benefits of keeping my body in good, healthy shape. I wasted a LOT of time thinking about my weight (daily) when I was overweight, but I also think it’s human nature. It’s what eventually motivates us to make changes that are better for our confidence and overall health. No one ever made me feel bad, I don’t subscribe or read “women’s magazines” but I know when I weigh 40 more pounds than I should – even with no one ever mentioning it to me.

    Most of us have more challenges with winter activity. With the time changing and the weather warming and days offering more daylight, it’s a reminder that you can (and should) be able to get back to your healthiest habits. At least that’s how I look at it. Spring is challenging me to return to activities I might have scaled back. If someone is calling it “bathing suit season” so be it.

    If I can be semi-blunt (because I can’t figure out how to say it any other way), it’s confusing to me that a blog/website that has entire categories about healthy living and offering of “how to lose weight…..” is critical of other media that essentially do the same thing. I love ALL gathering blogs and website to add to Feedly because it gives me suggestions on food and workouts and attitudes because I want to stay healthy as I age (just turned 50) AND I’d like to reap the benefits of feeling and LOOKING good.

    I don’t want people to be miserable in their bodies, but if I had no little voice in my head saying “wouldn’t you feel better if you weighed less”…..would I have ever lost it?

    I hope this makes sense.

    I appreciated reading your post.

  • Imacrazymomof4

    I think it’s completely normal to be self conscious with a swim suit on, I mean it’s a skimpy outfit in public, but it’s not like you are wearing it where other people aren’t! I have been more self conscious at times, like after having my 3rd child…she was born July 1st…but I didn’t think anyone that cared about me was judging me or being critical. I didn’t let it keep me from enjoying my myrtle beach vacation! I do think we are our worst critics…some people have harder times than others. I think to let it affect you is like adding gas to a fire…it just makes the whole cycle more vicious. You don’t put it on for one year, the next time it will be more difficult. The times I was more self conscious, it motivated me to make changes in the areas that I was most self conscious about. I have been known to get a spray tan on occasion and feel a ton better just because I’m not blinding myself with my whiteness! I do think people over think the situation and make it way worse than it really is.

  • Jessica

    I loved reading Carla’s post, and wanted to agree with it – but you are right, it isn’t that simple. The thing she doesn’t address is the COMPARISON factor. We are constantly comparing ourselves with others, and this is why we get insecure. I remember a conversation with a good friend, when she was saying how much she wished she wasn’t so skinny and had curves like I do. I was SHOCKED… in my mind she has the perfect bikini body and I have always felt self-conscious around her when we are at the beach. But apparently she was thinking the same thing about me! I realized then and there that self-confidence doesn’t come until we stop comparing ourselves to others, and instead start to appreciate our body for what it is on its own. And that is no easy task! Another eye-opener for me – being in Europe, walking through art museums, and looking at the sculptures of women… naked bodies. These bodies were considered perfection at the time, which is why the artist chose to capture them. The women had bellies that were not flat, thighs that touched, and curves galore. Just by being surrounded by these sculptures I felt so much better about my own body. It made me realize how, even when we try to resist, we are SO impacted by the examples of “perfection” that we are surrounded by!

  • Robby/FatGirlvsWorld

    I’ve said my response here: http://www.fatgirlvsworld.com/2011/06/bikini-ready.html

    But I’m going to add that we need to stop trying to comment on each other’s bodies, to tear each other down, to make ourselves feel superior. No more “What’s your excuse?” Just put down the weapons.

    And when you do that, there’s peace.

    But do take the time to get the right bathing suit. Not one the first one that you try on that covers everything. Not the one that’s on sale and you think “why not?” But think about what do you want to be doing in the bathing suit? Basking in the sun? Pretending you’re a dolphin in the waves? Playing some volleyball? In all things, function always follows fashion. And if you focus on what you want to be doing while you’re in the bathing suit and focus less on what it looks like in a photo or when you’re stagnant, the memories will be of how you felt while being active, not how you felt when scrutinizing.

  • LisaM

    Perception is everything. Different topic, but applicable – during my stay at home mommy years, when I would see professional women at the grocery store during the day, I always felt like they looked down on me for not being out in the working world like them. Flash forward to one day when I was back to my career, and I saw a mom with kids in the store when I was there on a lunch break. My only feeling was of admiration and jealousy! That made me realize that what I feel about my looks has nothing to do with other’s perception of me, and everything to do with my perception of me. So at least there’s half the battle eliminated right there!

  • MS_AimeeC

    I love both of your points of view. Carla is trying to inspire me into believing that I can wear a bathing suit in public and you are speaking right to my greatest fears.

  • http://travel-essentials.weebly.com/ Nathan Drake

    Way to go Carla. – Nate

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