With the heat of Summer fast approaching, it seems like everyone is doing their best to make sure their body is the one everyone is looking at while sunbathing at the beach. But what about the rest of us who wouldn't be caught dead in an 'itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini'?
Summertime has been bittersweet for me since I was young. It's always refreshing to be able to get out of the house, head to the beach and have a good time. On the other hand, that meant facing something I would rather push out of my mind; having to see everyone walk around with their perfect bodies in next-to-nothing, while I remained in a t-shirt and shorts, fearing anything less would cause pointed fingers and excessive laughter. Maybe that's an extreme thought, but people can be really cruel to larger ladies, especially with hundreds of perfect bodies walking past them to compare you to. For a long time, I avoided these places the best I could, missing out on having a nice time with my family, because I was ashamed of my body, scared of what my husband would realize he was missing out on, and dealing with a swarm of emotions that would surface.
Looking Past the Cellulite
Waiting in line at the grocery store, you always see those junk magazine covers that tear apart celebrities who show any imperfections; usually the ones you see this time of the year are about belly fat and cellulite. While it's easy to realize that these people are always being watched and picked apart, it does bring about some concern within myself. I find myself unintentionally wondering, "If I wore a bathing suit this year, would someone laugh at me?". In reality, I doubt anyone would look at me long enough to see the dimples in my legs, or the stretch marks, or the varicose veins that seem overly obvious to me. They would see a woman playing with her children. So why should it matter? I'm settled down and married, why should it matter if anyone else looks at me and thinks negative things? And yet, somehow, it always gets to me.
As a woman, it's important to feel like I'm desirable, even if it's only by my husband. I think there are very few overweight women who don't worry at least a tiny bit about their significant other being more attracted to someone else. That fear causes a snowball-effect within me, creating an unrealistic emotional experience to take effect. Why? Because there is always an underlying concern that if my husband finds another woman more attractive, he's going to leave me.
Okay, we all have our issues, but this is a big one for me. It takes a lot to separate myself from where my mind goes, and the reality of what happens. My husband looks at me and sees the woman he loved enough to want to spend his life with, wanted to have a child with, and spends each day loving. Does he care about my cellulite? Stretch marks? Loose skin? Belly fat? While my mind wants to scream yes, I know that he doesn't. He loves me! He's attracted to me! Shares his life with me! That alone should give me confidence, but it's not easy to let go of insecurities you've held on to for years.
Changing Your Thoughts
After hitting an all time low, by weighing more than I ever had before, I realized that being depressed about it, being insecure about it, and getting stuck in a rut wasn't going to change anything about my situation. I started making changes, emotionally at first, but have started taking even more steps to get healthier and feel better about the body I have. I have a long way to go, both physically and emotionally, but I'm heading in the right direction. I've realized that there is a thought process surrounding my insecurities and if I can work through them, it's a lot easier to deal with my envious mind when I see all the other women flaunting their perfect shapes.
- I have three beautiful daughters. Being pregnant changes your body a lot; I gained a lot of stretch marks and ended up with a lot of loose skin as a result. It's a part of the process. I wouldn't trade my children for anything and I need to stop worrying about how much my body changed due to pregnancies.
- There are things about my body I can change, and some things I can't. The things I can change are the ones I need to worry about and focus on. No, I can't magically lift my saggy breasts, but I can get rid of the excess weight I carry. When you put all your focus into the things you can't change, it's easy to get discouraged and give up. But when you focus on eating right and taking care of your body, your mindset changes and your emotions and feelings start changing right along with that.
- I have to look inside myself and really consider what matters. Looks change - weight goes up and down, you get wrinkles, gray hairs, etc., but the core of who you are is the same. Be the best version of yourself. The biggest thing I have control over is how I treat myself and how I treat others. When you're doing what you know is right, it's easier to feel good about yourself. Confidence comes from within and who you are and how you carry yourself matters more than anything else. If you feel beautiful on the inside, it's easy to project that and others see it too.
- Letting go of the fear that my husband will leave me is a big one. It's really a ridiculous thing to concern myself with. Yes, he sees other women and thinks they're attractive, but that's it. We go home together, we share a bed together, we make love together. Those are the things that are important. There are millions of beautiful people in the world, and he's with me. That's really an incredible thing to consider!
While you won't catch me in a bathing suit this summer (I'm not quite that confident yet), you won't see me hating every woman at the beach, just because they have beautiful bodies. Instead, you'll see me playing with my children and being proud to have my husband by my side, loving me despite my flaws.
How confident do you feel at the beach? Are there any things you should consider to help you gain confidence?