There is a picture of me floating around in a teeny weeny polka dot bikini. I know, because I posted it myself. It’s from a few years ago at the beach. If you dig around a little on the Facebook page you could pretty easily find it. I’m not posting it here because quite frankly, the photo makes me sad.
Can I tell you a secret? Here’s the thing, that was never ME in the photo. Well, okay, it was me. My husband took the photo and as soon as it was taken I grabbed the camera to review (and probably delete) it. I couldn’t believe what I saw. The person in the photo looked pretty damn good. I was amazed at how the light had somehow made me look like I had killer abs. I kept making excuses for why I looked so good in the photo and how that’s not what I look like in real life.
Yes. I studied that photo like it was my job. I picked apart every single flaw I could find (real and otherwise) and rationalized that it had to be the result of the light reflecting off the water. That was definitely not the person when I saw in my mirror. I became a little obsessed with this photo and even ended up posting it on the Facebook page. A lot of you commented on it, even saying how I inspired you. I didn’t get it. No matter how long I stared at it, I just didn’t see what everyone else did.
As you may know, a few years ago I lost around 30 pounds. I lost it through portion control and exercise and it came off pretty quickly. Even though I did it the “right way” (by not doing any quick fixes), my brain took a while to catch up to my body. In fact, I’m not sure it ever did catch up. Which is exactly why I didn’t see the same thing everyone else saw when they saw the bikini photo. I didn’t have the confidence that the girl in the photo should have (and looked to have). If people were looking at me because I looked “good”, I was convinced it was really because I had toilet paper stuck to my shoe or my pants were unzipped. I never really settled into that body and I sure didn’t love it. I still picked my body apart with the same vengeance as I did when it was heavier.
And now I’m a statistic. After keeping the weight off for five or so years, I’ve gained it back. Almost all of it. I’m no longer wearing a bikini. The funny thing is, I’m finally okay with that. I would much rather love the body I’m in than have it look a certain way if that meant I couldn’t appreciate it. I would much rather love myself with a few extra pounds than hate myself while fulfilling some ideal of what “hot” is supposed to look like.
What? You thought that when you reached that number or put on that bikini you’d be done? Oh, if only it were that easy. The work that needs to be done isn’t just on the outside. In fact, that’s the EASY part. The real work is in your mind. You have to start believing that you are worth it; that you are beautiful regardless of anything else.
I don’t know if I’ll ever wear a bikini again. Maybe, maybe not. For once in my life, a certain “look” isn’t my goal. If it comes down to body image or bikini shots, I’ll take positive body image any day. Bring on the sarong!