So. A couple of months ago, I bared my heart (and a lot of myself in the process) when I bought the damn bikini. The result of this post floored me. As I mentioned in the last post, I wasn’t prepared for the impact that it was going to have. It went viral, was viewed thousands of times and shared over 2,000 times on Facebook alone. I wanted to be brave, and encourage others to be brave, in my little way, in my little corner of the internet, and instead, a picture of me, taken in unflattering light inside a tiny change room, a picture meant for no ones eyes but my own, made it’s way around the internet. I figured if I wore the bikini a few times over the summer at the beach, or lake, or wherever, I’d probably be seen by maybe a few hundred people at most. I guess fate had other plans.
I received messages from people I knew, people I didn’t know, people I knew from high school, and work, and dance. People who told me how brave I was. How fearless, how this was something they could never do. Then something really cool happened. Women shared pictures of themselves in their newly worn or purchased bikinis, or told me that they were planning to go and get one, some of them for the first time in their entire lives, because my words rang true for them. It was shared on body positivity sites as a source of inspiration, on personal pages, Tweeted and G+’ed. It was published in the Huffington Post. For weeks the messages and notes came, my friends would tag me in statuses telling me about how they wore their damn bikini and it was awesome.
And then came the haters. Ugly comments, calling me fat, and gross, and an attention whore. Saying that I should try proper diet and exercise to control my “fatness” because the world certainly did not want to see that. People that completely, 100% entirely missed the point of the piece. People who felt that it was their right to judge me, or think that they knew anything about me, because of one picture, taken in the spur of the moment, only ever intended for carefully selected eyes or none at all, shared in a moment of absolute insanity and bravery with the whole world. One picture, that, judging by the responses I received, was a catalyst for more people than I will probably ever know to put their wants ahead of what they thought they should or shouldn’t do because some random person somewhere might not approve.
Those comments stung. People jumped to my defense, but reading those words was like watching a train wreck for me. I didn’t want to see but I couldn’t look away. The words ran through my brain over and over, and as much as I tried not to let them bother me, they did. I let old insecurities creep back in and it burned. It made me angry, and hurt, and sad. I wondered if I had made a huge mistake in doing this. I wondered why people chose to direct their nastiness at me? I wondered why people cared so much at all, and why they chose to look when it clearly offended their delicate sensibility?
Then I realized something. Again. It wasn’t my problem. The fact that some random yahoos cared enough that I chose to buy a bikini to spew nasty words at me said more about them than me. I said it before, and I’ll say it again. Don’t like it? Don’t look. It’s as simple as that.
It is not my job in life to look a certain way to make anyone else happy. The only one who needs to be happy with my body is me. Not someone who feels that my choices of bathing attire are up for discussion, debate or belittling. Not the fashion industry who believe that clothes only look good on girls of a certain size, or the media who validate those beliefs. Not some keyboard warrior sitting behind a screen giving me “helpful advice for the sake of my health” without knowing a damn thing about me or my health. If I am comfortable in my skin, that is all that matters. I am the one who lives, breathes, works out and plays in this body. If I choose to clothe it in a full body spandex wetsuit or a little bikini, that is my choice.
This summer, we spent a week at the beach. Still stinging a bit from some of the comments I received, I will admit to you that I was a bit nervous to don the bikini that (it felt like) half the world had already seen me in out in public. I wondered, after all my rah-rah cheerleading and bravado if I could do it. Just for a minute, but it happened. I questioned myself, and wondered if I could walk the walk after talking the talk. So I took a deep breath, put my bikini on and headed out. I wore it first to the beach and then to the waterslides and you know what happened?
The sky didn’t fall in, people didn’t throw rocks at me, or even laugh, point and stare. Most of them were too busy having fun with their own friends and family to even notice what I was wearing, let alone judge me for it. I was comfortable. I felt, and if I do say so myself, looked good. Maybe not everyone’s idea of good, but mine. We spend so much time and energy worrying about what other people will say or think of us and the truth is, that for the most part, they don’t even care.
So I encourage you to wear your bikini, or go and buy that dress, or take a class on something that you’ve always wanted to try. Please. Don’t be afraid to let yourself fall or fail, because when you put yourself out there and give yourself the opportunity, great things might happen. Trust me.