Thursday, 24 July 2014
Wearing a bikini and a new reality
So I did it. I wore a bikini. In front of other people.
I genuinely don't remember the last time I wore a bikini without covering it up with shorts and a t-shirt. Just the thought of showing off every inch of fat on my body filled me with dread. I thought people would scrutinise all the imperfect parts of my body - not just my weight, but my pale skin; my cellulite; my untoned stomach; my poorly done bikini wax; my varicose veins...the list goes on.
I felt like the moment I took off my clothes it was going to be like there a was a massive siren going off accompanied by a big flashing arrow, with everyone turning round to gawp in disgust. I thought my boyfriend would see me and automatically hate me for all of my imperfections. And none of this was because anyone had ever done these things - my boyfriend certainly not, he's amazingly supportive - but that didn't stop my disordered brain thinking disordered things.
I couldn't come on a beach holiday and sit covered up the whole time, so I locked myself in the bathroom for quite some time, gave myself a pep talk, and braved the beach. To my amazement, as I stripped off there was no flashing light or loud sound. Unsurprisingly noone was looking in my direction, nor cared one tiny bit that I was stripping off into my bikini. And, of course, my boyfriend didn't look at me like I was some ugly lump of fat. Which isn't surprising as, not only is it not something he's not seen before, but surely something every boyfriend wants is to spend time with their girlfriend in a bikini?!
So where did I pick up the courage from? After all, I have done zero exercise and eaten poorly for the past few weeks, am almost the heaviest I've been for years, amd am covered in bruises from carrying stuff round at the exhibition...so I'm not exactly in peak condition!
As I've mentioned in previous posts, the last few weeks I've had a new found relaxed attitude to eating. I've no idea where it's come from, but it's given me the head space to look at things in a new way. Before I would have been so caught up in my negative thoughts that I wouldn't have had any time to do anything other than panic. However being more relaxed has given me time to think about the situation I'm in and to look around me. At first I still found myself idolising people with tiny frames...and then once again realised that they were the bodies of teenagers. Which just made me angry with myself - adults are not supposed to look like children! Once I started looking around me at actual adults I saw women of all different shapes and sizes, all wearing bikinis and all looking amazing. No one was looking at them in a negative way at all.
One of the key reasons they looked so amazing was because they were all exuding confidence. I'm not going to pretend I know what was going through their heads (I'm sure they all have body hang-ups) but they were sat there acting like they were loving life, and wearing a bikini was neither here nor there for them. When I looked at them I didn't see their body type, I saw fantastically happy and confident women. And that's how I wanted to feel: happy, confident and carefree! Why should I be the woman sat on the beach covered up because of my own negative thoughts?!
And that's exactly it: we are our own worst enemies. We impose our own views on the world around us - if we think negatively about ourselves then we often think the world thinks the same about us. If we're judging ourselves on our bodies, then we assume everyone else is doing the same. In reality, people are often far too caught up in their own lives to notice other people. And even if they do, and they think something negatively about our bodies, so what? They may have a more toned stomach than you, or a more tanned complexion, but if they're judging us negatively based on our looks then their personality and good nature - the important things in life - don't even come close to yours.
The biggest favour we can do ourselves is to reevaluate the norms we've created for our own individual realities. Do they actually match the norms that really exist? I built myself a reality in which I thought everyone has the perfect bikini body, no one has cellulite, everyone has perfect skin, and everyone judges you based on your looks. In true reality the norms are that hardly anyone is so skinny you can see their ribs, that most women have cellulite and people don't spend their days judging you based on their looks.
I know this shouldn't have been such a revelation to me, but it was. As a result it gave me the confidence to sit on that beach, knowing I wasn't perfect, and not care. Being surrounded by women in bikinis, appreciating every woman for her own shape and size, made me realise how uptight and unrealistic I was being. And by being that way, not just in terms of wearing a bikini, but in every aspect of my life, from eating, to relationships, to work, I was denying myself the space to be truly happily and live my life to the fullest. Living your life terrified of other people's judgements, and your own self-judgements, is a half life. Recognise reality for what it is, and then be present in it - wear a bikini, eat chips, and smile :)