Recently I read an article about the two bloggers protesting the London-based ad campaign, “Are You Beach Body Ready?”. It got me thinking about all sorts of things on the particulars of swimming, as well as the malarkey of having a swim suit body.
I’ll start at the beginning. In my baby time, yes that’s me, I was crazy about two things; cats and swimming. Yes, that’s a kitten on my swimsuit. My favourite stories involve both things too. The cats would all pile on top of me in the crib while I slept and if my mother came to take them away I screamed and cried until she put the cats back down.
I was the same in the water. I couldn’t get into the water fast enough and would whine until we got in, then would whine some more if my family kept holding on to me. I wanted to swim, I wanted to be free in the water. Things were fine when my mom finally decided I could paddle from her to my father. But by the time I could teeter totter around, that was no longer enough.
I would run to the water, straight for the deep end. I would throw fits when I wasn’t allowed to jump in with reckless abandon and was restrained to the paddling pool or my mothers arms. One day, she just didn’t stop me. I suppose she was tired of fighting me and wanted to see if I could do it. I ran for the deep end, jumped in, started swimming around like a happy little turtle and never looked back. Finally I was free. Being only two that freaked a lot of people out, and as cliché as it might sound, I was born to swim, damn it!
Needless to say, I was really into swimming. Sadly, we didn’t have a pool in our backyard. But there seemed to be plenty of pools (and lakes and rivers and oceans) while I was growing up. My maternal grandmother was a part of the country club in her town, and for a while also had a friend with a pool. We were members of the financially lacking family country club. Every vacation included a motel with a swimming pool… or else. It also included trips to caves because I’m a nerd, but that’s a story for another time.
If I could wrangle it, every single summer day was spent from open to close at the country club we were members of. I rarely got out of the water; swimming until I was beyond water-logged. If anyone had wanted to steal me as a child, instead of candy, offering a trip to a place of water would have done the trick… that or the chance to nuzzle kittens… possibly cupcakes. Not sure about that last one though.
Sometime around age seven or eight is when I remember first seeing a commercial about the dreaded summer season and women who looked perfectly fine being completely miserable that they didn’t have the perfect body to show off in a swimsuit. If I wasn’t in the water, I was watching the telly, because where I live the middle of summer is like covering your self in a hot, damp wool blanket from the dryer and walking through warm pudding. It’s not nice at all, and if it’s not cool water then I want cool conditioned air.
I remember being really confused over those commercials and they tended to get on my nerves and I would roll my eyes and scoff and balk at the telly while playing with my Hot Wheels or My Little Ponies and tell the cats how ridiculous it was. When that became old, I would just change the channel.
Swimming is a physical activity, it was even a sport because I’d seen the Olympics. What was the point of doing physical activities to get a better body to be able to wear your swimsuit in order to do a physical activity? These people were crazy and I wanted no part of it. Just put your suit on and swim. Bam! End of discussion!
I still feel that way, though I understand not all women want to swim like there will be no tomorrow. They like to lay out, they like to chit-chat or drink, they like to bob up and down in the water not really doing anything. That’s fine, of course. I don’t understand it, but it’s fine. I’m almost 35 and I still swim the hell out of that water and stay in until my fingers and toes are all pruney. I’m still the one doing hand stands and somersaults in the water while everyone else is laying out on floats or on reclining chairs. I don’t still pretend to be Ariel (yes, for that entire summer of 1989, I liked pretending I was Ariel), but I still live in the water when I visit a pool.
I also know that there is no such thing as the perfect body, and I absolutely agree with the lady bloggers that to be swimsuit ready, just put on a swimsuit. I’ve never put much stock into a swimsuit body or how I look in one. It’s unbelievably hot here (as I said), I love swimming, and I don’t have time to wear anything constricting like a swimming skirt or a T-Shirt. By societal standards I am most certainly NOT swimsuit ready, and you know what? I don’t give a fuck. That’s right. I don’t give a good goddamn about what anyone thinks of me in my swimsuit.
The language was necessary. I’m done now. This, ladies and gentlemen, is one of MANY swimsuit bodies. I’m a rather private person, but I felt it was imperative to show myself in my swimsuit, because if anyone’s rockin’ a non swimsuit body, I’m gladly in that category. So, I slapped that sucker on and had The Sister take photo’s.
And when I say private, I mean just that. I’m not ashamed. If you were at a pool, and I showed up, I’d have no problem wearing this and walking to the water and swimming around, it’s just I’m not going to use it as my profile picture on Facebook, because there is a time and place; in the water, or to get an important message across about body image/body shaming.
You don’t have to love it, but you’ll have to see it because this is my blog post. I, however, love my body. I’m not in love with my body, obsessed to the point of egotism; but I have legs that work, I can breathe, my heart pumps my blood. Besides this is my body, if I don’t love it that’s just sad. We’ve been through A LOT together, I can’t bail on it and complain and nit-pick. That would be wrong to my body and my heart (emotionally speaking).
I’m also not a particularly vain person, but you might as well see all of what’s going on, or what was the point really. I really adored my racer back swimsuit, but the chlorine had deteriorated it and I can’t really find that style anymore. After that one I had a cute 60’s pink/brown flower takini, but I found out really quickly large chests and halter tops are not a match made in heaven. And not to be crass, but one pieces are not ideal for removing for trips to the toilet with all that dampness; it’s like getting clothes on 1970s era Barbie dolls.
The Sister is adorable and well-meaning, so she wanted nice, lovely photo’s. But that is only half the truth and that wasn’t really going to cut it for me with this post. So, a true-true shot was definitely in order. This is the body I love, the body that I’ll be with until the end of all things, the body I put in a swimsuit and happily swim my little heart out every chance that I get.
Swimming is a huge part of who I am and fear mongering and body shaming propaganda could never keep me away from something that makes me happy. Seriously, if you’re still on that old “perfect” body band wagon, just let go. It’s freeing, it’s liberating. Fuck everyone else. I’m serious. So what if someone calls you Shamu or talks about your fat ass. Own that shit. (Ok, I lied, apparently I wasn’t done with the expletives). I don’t care if it’s for a swimsuit or a modeling opportunity or just wearing capped sleeves, etc. If it makes YOU happy, if it’s what YOU want, go for it. You should never live life for other people/based on what others think or say (or what you THINK they might think or say). You should also never strive to be anyone but YOU.
It is YOUR body, act like it is. Lose weight ONLY if you want to, not because magazine ads are telling you who you should be/what you should look like. Ditch the Spanx and girdles. They’re unbearably uncomfortable and for what? It’s all a lie, to yourself and the jerks who care anything about the un real body you’ve created. Wear the comfortable underwear, they’re better for your circulation and the emotional rollercoaster you don’t want to be on anyway.
I was not always immune to it. I struggled with body image and what I was doing wrong; measuring myself to unobtainable standards of beauty. I worried about what others thought of me. I tried fitting in. I tried hiding who I really was and being what I thought others wanted me to be. It’s a lot of work, a lot of heartache, and way too much trouble.
Being me was easier, because well, that’s who I was born to be, that’s who I am, of course it’s easier, almost effortless. Once I realized that perfect didn’t exist it was like all that heaviness that I didn’t realize I was even holding, was just gone. I could breathe easier, I wasn’t stifled anymore. I only had to worry about me and that’s a whole lot easier than all those random, nameless people you walk past on the street or all the acquaintances you hardly know or even any “friends” in your life.
While being in a swimsuit was never bothersome, other things were and letting them go was refreshing.
You’re the only you you’ve got. Make yourself your own, make it good, make it real. You’re already swimsuit ready and swimsuit worthy. Go conquer that water!