It’s bathing suit season which means a few things for me: I’ll be treated to those summer NYC smells of garbage and urine, I’ll buy too many freezer-burned pints of ice cream at bodegas, and I’m going to feel self-conscious in a swimsuit at some point. While a woman wearing a bathing suit inspires enough think pieces to break the Internet, and we can talk till our noses bleed about body positivity, I’m still a human person. One who puts on a bathing suit in the real world and feels a little icky and nervous, considering I just spent spring/fall/winter getting yelled at by men on the street, then called a fat monster for not running into their arms. I feel weird about my power and my body, its imperfections, its sexual prowess, and its weird marks. I’ve felt weird and awkward about my body for most of my young life. Most people do.
So how do you feel better in real life? I’ve reconciled a lot of the junk fed into my impressionable little brain, and I’ve turned some of that bad self-esteem into a hearty dose of selfie narcissism, but that doesn’t mean I jump headfirst into a two-piece and start prancing around the beach like a golden retriever. It’s hard to put yourself on complete display. But I think there are things that can help. Here are my tips to being a little bit happier in a bathing suit:
1. Look Around You
Last summer, I went to Coney Island for an afternoon. I was surrounded by hundreds of people in bathing suits. One of them was an old dude who decided to go into the ocean wearing no shirt and a full pair of pajama pants... eating a bologna sandwich. That really isn’t my point, but I promise: your body will never be the oddest sight on a public beach, and you can count on that one. My actual point, though, is that there are plenty of people at the beach or pool with…bodies. And flaws. And you’re probably not focusing on them too much. Mothers, really jacked dudes, young teens, older people who surround themselves with a thousand umbrellas, little babies, and those people that blast music on their stereo like everyone wants to listen to Jason DeRulo. We tend to just focus on the beautiful perfect people, and beautiful perfect people there will be, and instead forget we are just a cog in the beach machine: one of hundreds, all looking to get a little tan (WEAR SPF), get a little wet, and have some damn fun.
2. Talk About It
I used to think that all my friends all had great bodies that looked amazing in bathing suits and then I began to talk about how I feel. I’m a big fan of 'keeping everything inside me bottled up like a can of soda in a freezer and then it explodes,' but that never really works that well. Because then I get angry and bitter and wrinkly. And there’s actually something helpful and nice about talking about your insecurities with the people that choose to be around you because they think you’re great. They also have insecurities that you are going to think are crazy. And if you think they’re insecurities are kooky, maybe yours are too. It also feels good to, at the very least, hold yourself accountable to your thoughts. If you felt like you didn’t want to go in the ocean because you’re worried about how you look, voicing that you feel not so good will allow your friends to give you the push you need to go and live your life. Go and live your life!
3. Go Shopping
I bought a new bathing suit last summer, and even though going into dressing rooms makes me want to gauge my eyes out and feed them to tiny birds, treating myself to a nice new thing made me more excited to put the suit on. And wearing the same old bathing suit for a few years because you hate bathing suit shopping doesn’t make you feel excited to go out to the beach. There are so many amazing styles out there, ones that offer comfort and support, come in a variety of sizes, and are super affordable and cute (try Asos, Modcloth, J Crew, or Target!). If you really can’t stomach the idea of a new suit, go full treat-yoself anyway. Get a big ass summer hat. Or a cute beach bag. Or neon flip flops. Something that you can’t wait to show off, but can really only show off at the beach. It makes a real difference!
4. Take Some Photos
This is kind of a weird one, and I hope it will be helpful to you, because it’s helpful to me. Sometimes, I get nervous at events because I’m worried somebody’s going to take a bunch of really awful pictures of me and post them everywhere. I’m worried that I’ll end up having a lot of fun and then I’ll see pictures of myself later on and I’ll go “I looked awful!” and feel like I didn’t have so much fun after all. It’s crap. It rarely happens. And sometimes, I think about it. If this happens to you: ask a friend to take some photos of you and your friends right off the bat. Take some pictures of yourself that you like and feel good about. And that way, you’ll have a few nice pictures at the beginning of the event to remind you that you did have fun and you do look great. Stop focusing on how you look all the damn time.
5. Be Better To Yourself
Oh, just be nice. You spend way too much time treating yourself like you are a freak monster, when you’re just a normal person with flaws just like everybody else. Get over some of that crap. Stop being your worst critic. Be nice to yourself. You are the only body you have. Be kinder to it. WORK ON IT.