Saturday, the Ex and I took Penelope to Leone Beach in Rogers Park to go swimming. One of us has taken her up to the beach or it’s attached park every day since it started getting nice out. In April, that was mostly the Ex, as I was still locked in my apartment on quarantine. Since Peej and I have returned from my parent’s house it’s been me taking her up there every morning between 9am and 11am (when she turns into an absolute crank monster.)
What I have not done is take her in the water to swim. First, it’s ice cold still. I’m a tough broad who loves to swim and I still shouted “fuck it all to hell” when I dove into the water recently. Second, Peej is fast as a cheetah and still has a hard time listening and following directions. This is a recipe for a disaster.
I definitely needed backup there if I wanted to take her into the water past her ankles.
Not that I’m not capable of saving her life should I need to, I am certified in water safety and CPR. I would just rather not have use those skills on my own child. (And, believe me, I have HUGE PTSD and anxiety surrounding the health and safety of this baby, considering what happened to her sister. Understandably.)
On Friday evening, when it was about 99-bajillionty degrees in our 3rd walk up apartment, I mentioned to the Ex – “Hey, you know what would be fun? Let’s take Peej to the beach in the morning and take her swimming.”
After some back and forth about why there needed to be two of us doing this, he agreed.
So on Saturday morning, as I was digging through my bathing suit drawer, I came upon THE suit. The suit I bought it last year for my best friend’s bachelorette party. It is a high waisted bikini, the top is a shocking hot pink that makes my boobs look amazing, the bottom is a navy blue with a floral print that comes up just under my ribcage. So… basically it’s a one piece with a little bit of skin showing.
However, the idea of wearing this bathing suit last year gave me an actual panic attack. Literally stood in the middle of a room with the women who are closest to me on earth, the platonic loves of my life, sobbing and shaking about putting on a bikini. (I ended up doing it anyway to get in the hot tub, but was so freaked out by the bikini that I ended up just taking it off and being naked. That should say something, I would rather be naked, than wear a bikini in semi-private, let alone public.)
Like most women, I have something called body dysmorphia. (Not to be confused with body dysphoria, which is entirely different.)
If you’re not familiar, I feel like my physical body is so deeply flawed that I am embarrassed by it.
Some things I hate and am embarrassed by about my body:
- I have a pudgy tummy (one that will never go away) from having two children
- My boobs are different sizes
- I hate my profile
- I hate my upper arms
- I REALLY hate my hair (which is why I cut it and change colors so frequently)
The issue is that when I look in a mirror, I see a completely different person than people see when looking at me. And, given time and distance, when I look at photographs I can see what other people saw when the photograph was taken. Example, a friend just posted a photo on Facebook of me and him and another friend taken in 2000. I remember that night, I thought I looked hideous and fat and was super uncomfortable when the photo was taken.
Um, hello, dumbhead. I was a babe. Look at my skin, look at my hair, look how skinny I was. (I’d rather not look at my teeth because I was a smoker back then, yuck.) I was a baby and I looked beautiful and happy.
Yet I spent the whole night feeling uncomfortable and anxious.
I suspect every woman and most men can identify with feeling this way at some point or another. No matter how much I preach body positivity and applaud women for being themselves and not allowing society to pigeonhole them into what fashion and Hollyweird thinks they should look like… every time I look in the mirror I still see a fat girl trying to be skinny.
I don’t know where I got this fucking idea that I was fat. I’m 5’4″ and I weigh (on a bad day) 187lbs, (on a good day) 165lbs. Were I my Mom’s height (6-foot) I’d be a flipping supermodel. I run daily, I eat well, my body is strong and supple. It has carried, created, nurtured, and given birth to two BEAUTIFUL children. (Within 4 years of each other, even.)
All I know is that there was some point in my tweens-early teens I started covering my body in shame. Maybe when my Grandma’s second husband told me I had thunder thighs, or when some really mean kids on the school bus started calling me “Piggy?” Or, maybe it’s because one of the many medications I’m on to keep my brain healthy has a side effect of weight gain (which would explain why I can’t lose those last 15 lbs.) Or because I perceived that the other, skinnier, prettier girls were looking at me and judging me. (Some of them were, I’m sure, you know who you are…. *steely eyes*)
I don’t know. I just know that I went from feeling like I was adorable one day to feeling like I was a fat, ugly troll. Maybe it’s part of being a teenager? I don’t know. I think there were 6 months in my late 20s-early 30s when I felt like a super babe. That is the last time I allowed someone to take a picture of me in a bathing suit. 2001 at the India House Hostel in New Orleans. EVEN THEN I was wearing a bikini top and a long gauzy hippy skirt to cover my legs/thighs and the problem areas of my tummy. (And, literally at that point of my life I weighed 115 lbs soaking wet.)
But, this is why you always see selfies of me, not full body pictures. This is why you see pictures of everyone else and their brother with my kid, and not photos of me and her together. I mean, social media hasn’t helped at all, people are cruel. One of the first things they go after is your weight. Recently a supposed friend copied a FB photo off my personal page and another supposed friend drew on it to make me Ursula the Sea Witch. While I played it off as funny, it really hurt me deeply. This is part of why I’m no longer on Facebook very much. Given the chance, people are awful.
At the beach, this is why you’ll see me covering up with a long tank top, or wearing a bathing suit with a skirt, or having a pair of loose running shorts over my one piece.
Because I feel ugly, fat, less then.
2020 is a year of transformation for me. (I mean, 2020 is shit in a lot of significant ways, but I am making the best of it.) I quit drinking and smoking weed. The weight of a bad marriage is off my shoulders. I am LOVING spending as much time as possible with my daughter (although I am constantly exhausted.) I am building my freelance business one client at a time.
2020 is the year that I let go of this bullshit nonsense Body Dysmorphia, too. I am 46, a mother, still very fuckable (if I say so myself,) and I AM TOO TIRED TO CARE ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE’S OPINIONS OF MY BODY.
I’ll be damned if I am going to repeat the same behaviors that have become ingrained in me since young girlhood and pass them onto my gorgeous baby.
If her body is beautiful, so is mine.
So instead of grabbing the one piece I use for swimming laps, I grabbed that bikini and put it on. I looked at myself in the mirror and felt an immense sense of discomfort, but still threw my sundress on over it, grabbed my dorky sun hat and sunglasses and was off with my non-traditional family to the beach. Where I promptly took off my dress and sprayed my body head-to-toe with sunscreen (because a sunburned stomach is zero fun.)
You know what? NO ONE DIED. No one called me fat. No one even gave my bathing suit a second glance. In fact, one or two people even hit on me. (Including one -very hot- Israeli conspiracy theorist who talked my ear off while Paul ignored my very obvious signals to help me get out of the conversation. I’m going to have to teach him a safe word if he’s going to be my friend… like BANANAS. Plus the conspiracy theorist’s dog peed on my kid’s stroller. Yuck.)
I’m taking this bathing suit to South Carolina for my family vacation. And, none of the male members of my family better say shit. Cause I’ll punch them. (They would never say anything to actually hurt me, they just like to tease me and sometimes go to far.)
I would have posted a full length picture of me in the bikini, but I was lucky to get this one selfie, as my cheetah baby was running full speed down the beach and I had to ditch the phone and go grab her. Next time.