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You Have the Right to Wear a Bathing Suit

One of the podcasts I enjoy is The Cracked Cup, and I especially appreciated the most recent episode, which included a good conversation about shame and weight. (If you’re interested in the conversation, here’s the link to the episode, and that part starts around minute 35.)

I enjoyed the whole episode, but one comment that stood out was when one of the women said that when she was younger, she felt like she needed to earn the right to wear a bathing suit. And as an overweight teen, she didn’t feel like she had earned that right.

I hadn’t thought about it that way before, but once she said it, I found myself nodding. This is part of what I felt, too. It seemed like only thin people were allowed to wear bathing suits in public. After all, those were the only people I saw in bathing suits on TV and in ads.

And not just bathing suits – other clothes felt off-limits, too, like shorts and sleeveless tops. But that’s not a real rule.

You have the right to wear a bathing suit, no matter what kind of body you have.

Admittedly, it’s hard not to care about what other people think. And some people can act like jerks when they see a heavy person, no matter what that person is wearing. I’m thinking of the ones who moo or call fat people names while driving or walking by.

Name-calling and judgment can hurt no matter how old you are, although it’s often harder for those who are younger. When you’re older, you can remember that the insults say more about the person yelling at you than they do about you.

But as a young person, it’s so easy to take everything personally. I certainly did. Because of this, you might decide that you need to protect yourself by not putting yourself in a position where you’ll experience such negativity, and this might include not going to the beach.

You don’t want to risk the pain it might bring.

Unfortunately, these patterns can become a habit. As an adult, you might still not want to go to the beach because part of you still feels like that teenager and is afraid of getting hurt. You might also be out of practice wearing bathing suits and putting on sunscreen. Maybe you’ve even convinced yourself that it’s okay because you don’t really like swimming or going to the beach anyway (even if you really do).

If this has happened to you, and if you want to wear a bathing suit – or a sleeveless dress or shorts or whatever it might be – but feel nervous, remember that you have just as much right to wear those as anyone else. And if other people are uncomfortable seeing you wearing that, they don’t have to look at you.

Then see if you can channel that into action. You could start by wearing the bathing suit at home a couple of times if that helps, but also make a plan to go to the beach.

This is also a good time to practice self-love, to remind yourself of how much you’re worth, no matter what other people may say.

The key is not to put it off. As the last year with COVID has taught us, we never know what life will bring. So wear the bathing suit, or whatever else you want. And if you make the most of your time and do what you love, you’ll likely inspire others to do the same.


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