I took last week off to go to Maui. Even Angry Feminists need breaks. It was divine. It was perfect. I swam in the beach, consumed as much pineapple as I could find, I went from being porcelain pale to normal person pale. I cried multiple times on our last day. And today I am very grumpy to be back in cold, rainy Seattle. I am wearing long sleeves, long pants, I have my space heater on, and I have to wear a bra again.
While on this vacation I spent a good chunk of the week sporting a very controversial outfit: a bathing suit.
Bathing suits are charged with so much drama and anxiety that honestly the simple act of wearing a bathing suit feels ambitious and defiant. From arguments about modesty, to over sexualization of the female body, to body image pressure, a joyous day on the beach enjoying the sun can turn into an anxiety filled depression spiral pretty quickly.
I’ve talked about Modesty before. Ive also talked about Sexualization a lot. And both play a major role in the bathing suit conversation, further amplifying the struggle women face whenever they go out in public to be sexy but not too sexy, to express themselves and to protect themselves. It’s a real shit show.
I haven’t talked much about body image yet.
When it comes to body image and bathing suits there are two schools of thought. Spend all winter working out and eating well to get your body “bikini ready”. Or, all you need is a body to have a bikini body. My facebook is littered with ads and articles about both approaches. Try this diet supplement to get your body bikini ready! Try this workout plan to get your best beach body! How I learned to love my body just as it is! Articles justifying bigger bodies, articles glorifying skinny bodies. Read this, try that, do more.
It can start to feel like everyone has an opinion about how we “should” look in a bathing suit. Which, if you actually put on a bathing suit and go out in public, can make you feel like everyone is paying attention to you and judging you for how you look in what you are wearing.
And it’s stressful. Terrifying. It leads to women crying in dressing rooms while trying to find their bathing suit for the summer.
But, if you finally do it, you realize something incredible: no one cares. People don’t go to the pool or to the beach to scrutinize, ridicule, or police other peoples bodies. They go to enjoy the water and the sunshine, just like you did!
I have a pale curvy body, with too much here and too much there, and no one screamed in horror at my body, no one commented, starred, or shamed me. Men weren’t losing control of themselves due to my exposed skin. I actually don’t even think I caught anyone staring at my cleavage. We swam in the ocean and the pool for hours upon hours. We had many pleasant conversations with people in the hot tub. It was a lovely time.
So I guess my take is this: live your happy. And most importantly, don’t let something as silly as a beach body prevent you from experiencing anything.