By: Christina Stiehl, Noom Content Writer
For most of my life, I’ve had to combat negative voices in my head that criticize my body and what I look like. I’ve struggled to accept my body, no matter what size I was or what I weighed. And even though I’ve come up with a few phrases I say to myself when I’m having a tough body image day, these intrusive thoughts never completely go away.
The summer is the hardest for me. With sleeveless tops, short skirts, and strappy sundresses in style, I show more skin in the summer than any other time of the year. Although I’d prefer to wear long jeans instead of shorts or short sleeves instead of tank tops, this doesn’t always work in the sweltering New York heat. As each summer approaches, I try to unlearn all the harsh words I say to myself about my body as my arms and legs become more exposed.
My biggest struggle? Wearing a swimsuit in public. Although I confidently wore a two-piece in college, it’s been almost 15 years since I’ve worn anything to the beach that exposes my midriff. I’ve found some chic one-piece suits that I like and even some fun ones with cutouts. But ever since I was 19, a real two-piece bathing suit felt off limits to me.
I never felt worthy of wearing a two-piece because I didn’t look like all the smaller, fit girls I saw on the beach, at the pool, in magazines, or on social media. Being confident and feeling free in a swimsuit was for other people, not me—I thought I’d never have that privilege. And as my weight fluctuated over the last decade, I thought my two-piece days were forever behind me.
Until this summer.
I was hanging out with some friends sunbathing on a rooftop recently when I noticed my friend’s two-piece swimsuit. I loved the ribbed texture of the fabric, the high-waisted cut of the bottoms, and the style of the matching top. As I complimented her on the swimsuit, she told me where she bought it. And maybe it was the two glasses of prosecco I already drank, but something inspired me to order it for myself right then and there.
I assumed once my swimsuit arrived, I would put it on, hate how it looked, and send it back. But when I tried on the top and bottom, I actually liked how it fit my body.
No, I didn’t look like the model on the website or even my friend who is smaller than me. But I drowned out the negative internal dialogue and instead focused on what was positive: this bathing suit is soft and comfortable on my skin, the bottoms are cut in a way I like on my body, the top is stylish and supportive.
Although I’m currently at the highest weight I’ve ever been in the summer, I told myself I still deserved to wear a two piece like everyone else. I don’t have to wait until I lose weight or am at an “ideal” size (and, spoiler alert: that ideal size may never happen for me.)
While I know I’ll have to give myself a little pep talk before I wear this suit in public, I’m looking forward to putting on something that I like and is comfortable—rather than feeling like I have to cover myself up. I know the negative thoughts about what I look like won’t completely disappear, but this summer I’m giving myself permission to put myself out there and have fun like everyone else. And getting a little sun on my belly (which is currently very pale from years of hiding it) is just an added bonus.