As far back as I can remember, I've hated putting on a bathing suit. Even without the hassle of sunscreen (hello bane of my existence) it always felt like torture trying to find a suit that didn't accentuate my belly roll or wide hips or thick limbs or unsightly body hair. (TMI? So sorry.). But can we talk about how hard it is to have a good time at the beach/pool while constantly worrying about how you look? Quite frankly its a bummer.
I've spent my springs failing at dieting and my summers trying to cover up my flaws. I've spent my life criticizing myself, often out loud for anyone and everyone to hear.
And now I have a daughter. A big daughter. At 16 months she is already wearing size 2T and pushing the top of the weight charts. She is perfect in my eyes, but I look forward 10 years from now and I can see so clearly how my little remarks about myself will have affected her so deeply. She will be ashamed of her round belly and might even start turning down pool party invitations. She will compare her own shape to those of her friends and think how much simpler everything would be if she could have just been blessed with the "thin" gene. And my heart is breaking already for my future 11-year-old, knowing that try as I may, no words will ever convince her that she is beautiful, wonderful, perfect the way she is.
So it's time to break the cycle.
How do you break a 20-year-old (maybe even more than that) habit? When did I start bullying myself? And how do I stop? Baby steps, perhaps. Today I played in the backyard in my bathing suit (which for once in my life does NOT have a skirt because swimming in a skirted bathing suit is ridiculously annoying) feeling imperfect but free. I splashed with my kids in our tiny pool and then spent a few blissful minutes basking on our swing. Without a cover-up on. Without making any comments (at least not out loud) about how much weight I desperately need to lose. Baby steps.
And maybe, just maybe, my daughter will experience an adolescence where weight and self-esteem are not inversely proportional.
Can I protect her from society's insane demands on women to be thin, perfectly sculpted, flawlessly smooth? No. But I can certainly do my best to keep the self-judgment out of my house.
Wish me luck.