I really struggled with this one. I wanted to write an article that gives people that “aha” moment, that speaks my truth and reminds us that we’re allowed to exist as we are and break free from societal pressures, but the words never came. The idea has been lingering in my head for months and I thought by summer I’d make sense of how to write it down. Well here we are, and we’re going to try anyway. First things first:
- Stop Comparing
People on social media don’t look that way in real life. People are beautiful, and if they enjoy posting about themselves and how they look on social media, they should continue doing so if that’s what makes them happy. But comparing yourself to content that could’ve been staged or edited for the sake of social media isn’t good for anyone. Especially in a world where the definition of beauty has never stayed consistent from year to year and nobody has ever fit every single standard of beauty perfectly. Comparing yourself to others brings no benefit to your existence.
Also, don’t let someone else’s hatred become your own. Insecure people tend to project their insecurities onto others when they send hate. Negative thoughts and ideas someone sends your way shouldn‘t take up space in your mind and influence the way you see yourself. Your beauty and your worth are not dependent on the way others see you.
- Clothes Fit You, Not The Other Way Around
Stretch marks, dark spots, scars, blemishes, acne, rolls, bloating, etc. are all products of your body being alive. Your body isn’t concerned with how you “should” look, it cares that you’re living and breathing. Your skin, bones and muscles are all trying to protect your insides from the world outside and your body’s biggest priority is surviving and making sure you keep making it to the next morning.
The thought that your body is meant to fit clothing is an unhealthy idea that we’ve been made to believe by the fashion industry. It’s just not true. I spent my whole life thinking my body was never made for bikinis, and I didn’t start wearing one until I was 20 years old. It felt impossible finding a swimsuit that worked with my body instead of against it or without hiding it. After a year into my fitness journey and two years after a breast reduction, I finally found one that made me feel good. For years, I’d immediately feel tears in my eyes each time I tried on a swimsuit in a mirror — and for the first time in my life, they were from happiness and acceptance. It should not have taken that long to feel that way about an article of clothing. Everyone deserves to easily find the clothes that look and make them feel good, without facing such a struggle.
- Accept Your Body for How It Exists Now
If you’re anything like me, you’ve criticized yourself and your body for years, and nothing good has come from that. Imagine instead what could come from approving of yourself. If the former hasn’t done anything positive for you, what is there to lose? Self-acceptance is not the same as self-love, but if you haven’t found the right ways to love yourself, accepting yourself is a pretty good place to start.
Let’s not forget we are still living through some major historical events. We were just getting adjusted to life in quarantine and are now steadily making adjustments to return to some semblance of “normal” living. All that change is a lot to go through, and whatever your body has looked like throughout this experience, it has survived. You still deserve to eat, drink water, sleep and make sure your body can continue surviving. It’s okay if you have certain goals for yourself and your body for this year or any year, but it’s important that those goals come from a place of love for your body, not hate for it.
Like this article, my perception of self feels like a work in progress. I don’t look back on my work and feel that I’ve written anything groundbreaking, but I’d rather start here than not start at all. Maybe I’ll rewrite this again later when I find myself in another stage in my life and figure out more about how I feel. But, for now, a gentle reminder for anybody that needs to hear this, including me: Bikini bodies are bodies in bikinis. Therefore, all bodies are bikini bodies. End of story.