Swimsuit Season

Yes, I know it’s a bit early to be talking about swimsuits.  But swimsuits always seem to be an instigator for body awareness.  The ultimate showing, or not showing, of one’s body and how comfortable they are in showing it.
I read a blog this morning about a woman that struggled with her body, specifically in swimsuit season, from a very young age (age 7, way to young to even be thinking about her body).  Now I will say that society does a fantastic job of making every woman aware of her physical flaws.  And it seems that the age to be aware of these “problems” has gotten younger by the minute.  Something that we as women should be fighting against, but that’s another story.
She begins with an outline of her swimsuit endeavors by age and attempts to find something that will cover her hips, increase her bust, cover her tummy.  She goes through “slimming” suits, one-pieces, t-shirts and the ever popular mom swimsuit- the tankini.  It is not until her daughter is a toddler and wants a two piece swimsuit that the mom decides she will not hide her body in order to teach her daughter that all bodies are beautiful and she doesn’t want her daughter to struggle with her body the way the mom did.
I suppose I was lucky.  I grew up in a less socially ingraining time when it came to one’s body.  And, on top of that, in high school I had nice hips, a tiny waist and a decent bust to fill out my bikini at the hotel pool on band trips.  It wasn’t until college that I gained the “freshman 15″ (I was still only 115 pounds soaking wet) and started to be more aware of my body.  I went through one pieces, tankinis, etc.  I gained a little more weight as time went on.  But I don’t think it was until I started belly dancing that I became less concerned about my body.  Society, specifically the fashion industry, has determined that unless you are at least 5’9” and 100lbs you aren’t worth looking at.  Well you know what?!  That is so beyond the truth it’s ridiculous!  We all come in different heights, weights, shapes and sizes.  And we can all be beautiful and desirable.
Part of belly dancing is that you usually show your belly, so you can show off those hip movements.  It’s not required of anyone, of course, and I always stress when I’m teaching that no one has to show their belly if they don’t want to.  With that said, showing my belly made me less concerned about my hips or tummy and almost gave my a drive to show off my body simply because I was tired of being concerned about what everyone else around me thought about my body.  I don’t need a fashion magazine to tell me I’m not a model.  Of course I’m not!  I don’t want to be.  I want to be me!
I eventually went with board shorts (mainly because they are comfy) and a bikini top.  I let my belly hang for all to see!  Years later I became a mom, talk about changing the shape of your body!  But I still didn’t (and don’t) care.  Board shorts and a bikini top it is.  I’m proud of my body because it is a real body.  I work out when I can, eat healthy, etc.  In the end the only thing that matters is how I feel about my body, not what society tells me I should feel (you guessed it, usually shame).  That doesn’t mean I wear skin tight clothing all of the time, it’s uncomfortable anyway!  It means that I wear clothing that looks good and makes me feel good.  Whether it’s a baggy t-shirt one day, a fitted tank the next, a bikini top or relaxed fit jeans.  I am happy with who I am and what I am.  I am a wife (my husband thinks I’m sexy!), a mom, a belly dancer, a woman.  My life, my elliptical life, gives me every right to be happy and be as ambiguous about it as I want.  It’s my body after all.

About the author: Karsilama