I have always loved to swim and started taking lessons before I was tall enough to touch the bottom of the pool and breathe at the same time. This involved a lot of hopping up and down and although I didn’t pass that first year because I could only manage to swim under water and not on top of it, it certainly didn’t discourage me from loving the pool. I took lessons and then I learned life saving and I even raced for one summer although I was never really built for speed. I have always felt comfortable around water and swimming pools and for most of my life I also felt comfortable in a swimsuit.
You might think that this is the part were I tell you that I don’t swim any more because I feel too fat to be seen in a swimsuit. Not so. In fact when I went to the Mayan Riviera a couple of years ago I packed a couple of tankini swim suits only to find myself green with envy when I saw other big girls in actual bikinis. Where the heck did they get them? I asked around and it turns out that most of them had shopped in large American department stores to find their plus size bikinis. It just so happened that the next day a swimsuit company came and put on a fashion show around the pool at the resort and then set up a table to sell their wares. Yes, I will admit I may have had a few cocktails when I went over to the table and defiantly asked if they had a bikini that would fit ME. The woman dug around the pile of bikinis and pulled out a cute brown patterned suit and held it up to me. She told me I could try it on in the pool changing room before I bought it so off I went. The suit did fit. I put it on and walked out to the pool to pay for it. I felt…shy, empowered, proud, nervous, exposed. I also felt like it really didn’t matter to me if other people thought I was way too fat to wear a bikini. I didn’t know any of those people and I would probably never see any of them again anyway. Besides, there were some other larger woman wearing 2 piece suits, but I was bigger than them.
I wore that suit for the whole 2 weeks I was in Mexico. I developed a beautiful golden tan, I almost lost both pieces to rogue waves more than once and I had several interesting conversations with people I barely knew about body image. I had decided that it didn’t matter. I decided it was none of my business what other people thought of me. I decided to wear a bikini in public. It was awesome!