Ditch The Diet! Eat Right. Move More. Move On!
I was sucked back to 1990 in an instant. The anxiety, the fear, the embarrassment… all of the awesome emotions that accompany being completely and utterly uncomfortable in your own skin. My friends are all running around having a blast. In the pool, out of the pool, running around the pool, you get the idea. Me? I have a bathing suit on, sure. But I have a big, baggy (soaking wet) T-shirt on over my suit. And truthfully, if I could have also worn shorts without too many stares I totally would have. I’m tricking everybody. This stretched out, soaking wet shirt is covering me up. Covering up my anxiety, my fear, my embarrassment of letting my friends see my body.
See, being a chunky (“husky” I think they called it back then?) kid was fine with me until I had to show some skin. I took comfort in my clothes. I didn’t want anyone to see my chunky thighs. My “spare tire” around my belly. My flabby arms. I’d rather just keep those parts of me private. Looking back, this crazy image of myself was mostly in my mind!
In 1990, we had hand written invitations to birthday parties and backyard picnics. What kid isn’t excited to get a hand written invitation to your friend’s house for a party? I mean, I know I always was! Except… the dreaded pool party.
“Jessica’s party is going to be a splash of a time!” Ugh. Love Jessica, not crazy about the whole bathing-suit-in-front-of-the-friends part.
“Float your way over to Freddy’s house to celebrate!” Again. Freddy was my BFF, but showing all that skin in front of my neighborhood friends? I’ll pass.
What I wanted to say: No, I don’t want to come to your pool party! I hate my body! I hate the fact that we all have to wear bathing suits and show skin… it makes me so uncomfortable, anxious, embarrassed, ashamed. Why can’t we go bowling instead??
What I said: Yeah, sure I’ll come. I’ll pack my big T-shirt. I’ll be anxious driving there. I’ll be awkward and try to just blend in. I’ll count down the minutes until I can change back into my comfort zone. Cover myself up again. Sure, I’ll come to your pool party. And I’ll pretend to be happy in my big, soaking wet T-Shirt that will only get bigger, longer, heavier, more stretched out as the day goes on.
I’d love to jump back to the ‘90s and see what I was thinking.
Were all of my friends budding supermodels? If so, it didn’t work out. I’ve stalked them all on Facebook at one point or another. They all have normal jobs like me.
Destined for the US Bikini Team? I think I just made that up. Not sure that even exists.
Anyway, you get the point.
Why did I care so much what everyone else thought of me?
Why do you care what everyone else thinks of you?
This body that we have is ours. For life. It’s the only one we’ll ever get.
This body has gotten me really far. I wouldn’t even want to trade it in for a newer model if I had the chance.
The outside has changed a bit over the years.
A few more laugh lines (I prefer “laugh lines” over “wrinkles”), more grey hair.
The inside has changed a ton.
I’ve gained confidence, self-worth, appreciation for what makes me… me.
I’ve come to realize what I’m capable of, what I can accomplish if I put my mind to something.
I know now that sweating the small stuff gets me nowhere.
That the only thing that could stop me from happiness, achieving a goal, enjoying myself at a pool party is me.
I choose (in case you completely miss the point I’m about to make, “choose” is the key word here) not to spend time comparing myself to everyone around me.
I choose to focus on what I can do to be a good person, wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, colleague.
I choose to take care of my body because it’s the only one I’ll ever get. If I don’t take care of it now, it won’t be in such good shape to take care of me later.
I choose to wear whatever clothes I want, whatever makes me comfortable. Because it’s not about what I’m wearing, it’s about who I am and what I can contribute to whatever situation I’m currently in.
I’m challenging you here people.
Challenging you to drop the body image issues.
Challenging you to stop comparing yourself to everyone else around you.
Choose to focus on who you are. What makes you unique. Special. Fun. Kind.
And if you get invited to a pool party, I challenge you to say yes.
And leave the baggy T-Shirt at home.
I know I will!