When I was in high school (and during one of the worst stages of my binge eating disorder), my choir class went on a trip to San Francisco. I've talked about this trip before in previous posts, but there's one story I haven't shared yet from my trip to the city by the bay. Given that it's almost summer and that "swimsuit season" is almost upon us, I figured now would be the best time to share it with all of you. 

From my Instagram account. Fun fact: This week marks exactly
two years from the time that I went on this trip. 

On one of our last nights in San Francisco, we were given some free-time to hangout at the hotel pool. I know this is going to sound stupid, but for some reason (despite the fact that the itinerary specifically said to bring a swimsuit) I didn't think we would actually have the chance to swim. I mean, I brought a swimsuit, but I didn't think I was actually going to need it given all the sight-seeing we had planned. 

Anyways, that night I panicked when I heard the news. I told my friends that they could go without me because I didn't feel well (which was partially true, I just wasn't experiencing the sickness that they had in mind). In reality, I was terrified to have my peers see what my body looked like beneath the baggy, ill-fitting clothes that I normally wore. The thought of stripping all of those layers away from myself and allowing nothing to be left to their imagination was petrifying. No matter how much I wanted to go have fun with everyone else, I couldn't find the courage to not care about the potential thoughts that others might have had about my body. 

Instead, I stayed in my hotel room, binged on my roommate's snacks, cried in the stairwell, and fell asleep early. 

So, why is it that we feel like we have to look perfect to have a perfectly good time? 

Summer 2011: 120 lbs.
Anorexic. Dieting. "Beautiful".  

Swimming and swimsuits aside, how often do we figuratively lock ourselves away in "hotel rooms" and away from life due to self-esteem, body image, or weight issues? 

How often do we place how good we look in a swimsuit alongside how good we feel about ourselves? 

I posted an article on the Facebook page for this blog about a week ago about fashion blogger, Jessica Kane, who went to the beach without a coverup over her swimsuit and posted a picture of it online. People were praising her, saying that she was "brave" for loving her body and not hiding it. Her response to those comments was surprising, but perfectly stated:  

"THIS WAS NOT BRAVE. I’ve been told how brave I am for not having a coverup, but going with out (sic) a wrap would only take bravery if I cared what others thought of me, but I don’t. I spend my time worrying about things I CAN control and this day, I was only thinking about how fab I felt and how much sun I was catching ☀️ Things that DO take bravery? A family battling tragic illness, a mother trying to beat addiction, a person trying to break free of domestic violence, reaching out for help when you have already planned your suicide and feel like you can’t breath one more day. THAT is brave. Not wearing a swimsuit at the beach. LIVE life and only worry about what really matters."

(Why do we place wearing a swimsuit in public on the same field of bravery as any of the other things listed above?)

After the trip to San Francisco, I went to an appointment with Dr. Michael Spigarelli. I told him about what happened and how I had not only avoided swimming because I felt inadequate, but that I had also binged and become depressed as a result of the emotions that stemmed from my actions. After hearing this, he told me that the only way I could prevent this from happening again in the future was to accept my body, buy a swimsuit that made me feel amazing, and to go have fun in that swimsuit. 

I'm sure that those of you who have experienced being a teenage girl know exactly how I reacted. 
I smiled, nodded my head, and completely ignored his crazy challenge. 

As time has gone by, I realize now that I wasn't afraid of what others would think of my body if I did this.  

I was afraid of going into a dressing room to try on a swimsuit only to need a bigger size. 
I was afraid of going out in public and seeing the stretch marks that were normally covered up by my clothes. 
I was afraid of feeling my thighs touch and my fat jiggle.
I was afraid of comparing myself to the other women around me. 

I was afraid of my own thoughts. 

Like those individuals who commented on Jessica's picture, I thought that in order to go out in a swimsuit (especially when I didn't have a beach-ready body) I needed to be "brave", and you know, I guess that's partially true. You do have to be brave when wearing swimsuit, but not in the sense that they implied. 

It isn't brave to wear a swimsuit in public, but it is brave to love yourself regardless of what the world tells you to be.

If you spend your life (or your summer) worrying about what others think of you, you'll never find out what you think of you. 

I'll be honest, I still haven't taken up Dr. Spigarelli's challenge to go buy a new swimsuit to fit my bigger body (it's a matter of personal finances now, rather than self-esteem), but I think I finally understand what he meant when he told me to do so. 

We shouldn't love our bodies conditionally or be ashamed of them when they aren't what we want them to be. 
We shouldn't fall into the trap of believing that we're only good enough to enjoy life when we diet or exercise regularly. 
We shouldn't let an article of clothing determine our happiness. 

However, we should go buy swimsuits that make us feel good about ourselves and start having fun. 

Today: 165 lbs.
Chubby. Healthy. Loving my body and loving life without coverups.
(My middle school swimsuit was the only one at home
that would fit me; I look like a lady bug!)

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