Apparently it is Swimsuit Confidence Week. Glad I missed the bus on that one. Its not that I’m afraid to show you what I look like in a swimsuit…I just don’t want to. OK, well, maybe I am a little bit afraid.
I’m not as afraid as I was five years ago, or 15 years ago. But I’m far more conscious of what I look like in a swimsuit than I was when I was 11 years old and I didn’t even realize that a swimsuit was supposed to do anything other than cover up the private bits so you could swim mostly unencumbered but not naked. All I cared about then was the act of swimming. I wasn’t self-conscious, I wasn’t even self aware. Of course, I didn’t have cellulite, either. So there’s that.
I think I have a subconcious desire to return to the days where I wasn’t so body-conscious. When I didn’t even know what arm fat was, much less care if I had it. When I wasn’t concerned about how nice my bewbs looked – mostly because I didn’t have any, to speak of. At least not compared to now.
On an entirely intellectual level I find this Swimsuit Confidence to be somewhat of a dichotomy. I am not trashing the event, not in the least. Women can always use more cheerleading to accept themselves and go ahead and live their lives in public, regardless of their shape or size. I’m all for that, and I like seeing women shed their fears (or at least keep them at bay with buggy whip and three-legged stool) and show other women that its perfectly OK to have a normal body and be seen in a bathing costume in public. I like that.
What gets to me are the catalogs and the magazine articles and layouts and the jargon that crops up around the clothing they are flogging. The swimsuits and bras and jeans and all of it.
Maybe more than Swimsuit Confidence what we need is Stop Telling Us We Look Bad.
I want to see more positive language around clothing and less of a focus on attaining the “perfect look.” Read any woman’s magazine article about buying the perfect pair of jeans or finding the most flattering swimsuit, and every word of that article directs you to minimize your flaws. Your FLAWS. The catalogs and the photo shoots and the everything, they’re telling you that its OK to wear a swimsuit even though you’re not perfect. So in other words, they’re telling you to feel okay about yourself WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY TELLING YOU YOU’RE NOT OK.
That’s total bullshit.
Treating women as if their sole goal in choosing a swimsuit or a pair of jeans or a dress should be to make their butt look smaller or their boobs look bigger (or more lifted) or their waist look tinier or cover up their cellulite suggests that if we have any of these flaws, then we are not ok. These are marks of who we are and how we are made, trophies of the children we bore or the scars we earned. They are NOT badges of shame to be covered up, masked, and minimized.
I, for one, would like to see a magazine layout stop talking about our fucking FLAWS for a damn minute and start talking about our positives. I think women should dress in what feels comfortable and good to them, not buy something someone else tells them to because it makes their ass look more “socially acceptable.” Show me a woman who wears something because she feels good in it, and I’ll show you a woman who looks beautiful not because she successfully hid her “imperfections”, but because she knows she is beautiful exactly the way she is.
You have a responsibility to yourself to learn to treat yourself with love. Don’t withhold love from yourself, don’t put a measurement on what makes you beautiful. Don’t say “I’ll love myself more when I lose ten pounds” or “I’ll love myself more when this wrinkle cream finally starts working" or "I'd love myself more if I didn't have these scars and this cellulite."
Love yourself exactly the way you are now. You are beautiful. You deserve nurturing. You are entitled to good things. You are entitled to be happy, to exist just the way you are RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND. NOTHING about you needs to be changed for you to be beautiful and loved and love-able.
The more you love yourself, the better care you will take of the precious body you were given. And the less you will worry about what you look like in a swimsuit.
Swimsuits are for swimming in.