Working on improving your body image? This is my story. How I went from insecure and self critical to……empowered and proud of my appearance.
Thank you to Monistat® for sponsoring this post.
How old were you when you were first aware of the things you hated about your own body? Ironically, since I know think about this a lot…..I feel like my insecurities surrounding my physical appearance developed later than most kids. I spent most of my elementary school years blissfully unaware. I was a happy, secure child. When I started to gain weight as a result of an undiagnosed thyroid condition…..I felt a little uncomfortable, but it wasn't awful.
One summer when I was 12, I was helping at our local pool. I was supervising kids on the play structure outside the clubhouse along with a 14 year old boy from our neighborhood. If I remember correctly, their parents were having some type of community meeting inside the clubhouse. It's also one of the first times I remember thinking a boy was cute (ok, I'm realizing I was a bit of a late bloomer). We chatted as we watched the kids, and all was going well until……..
“LOOK AT YOUR THUNDER THIGHS! THEY JIGGLE!” – one of the young girls we were supervising
I'm not sure who was more embarrassed, me or the 14 year old boy. The little girl went on to tell me that her mom said thunder thighs were gross.
Now let's be clear, I'm not blaming a six year old for years of insecurity (although I do think it's sad that she gained that perspective from her mother). But it is one of the first times I remember feeling critical of my own body. My body image changed that day for the worse. I spent my teenage years, my twenties, and my early thirties feeling extremely insecure. As my career developed, I was confident in my abilities to be a great teacher, my friendships……but never my appearance. Somehow, those thunder thighs were always an issue.
Until I had Lydia. When I had my own daughter, I realized something had to change. I refused to pass my insecurities on to her. I wanted to enjoy beach days and pool days with her. I wanted her to have memories of her mother feeling confident and secure, even in a bathing suit.
My Body Image Story: What Helped Me Feel Confident in a Swimsuit
When Lydia turned three, I realized I'd worn a bathing suit exactly three times and only because I was forced to. Something had to change. Summer was coming again. This whole avoiding beach days and pool parties things had to stop. So I decided I was going to do something about it. I was going to work on my own body image. I knew it would be hard to rewire almost 25 years of negative body image, but I knew that small changes and isolated behaviors would eventually add up to a big mental shift and a stronger body image.
I took pictures in a swimsuit. Yes seriously. It scared me. REALLY BADLY. But after having this personal experience….it's my top suggestion to anyone (thus the whole #justwearthesuit movement I founded). Why? Because our mind plays tricks on us. When you look at yourself in a mirror, your distorted body image is what you will see. Somehow, a physical photograph? Allows you to remove your insecurities. Those thunder thighs? Really didn't look as bad as I thought they did when I saw them in a photo.
Find a flattering swimsuit that fits well. There is nothing as uncomfortable (physically or mentally) as an ill-fitting swimsuit. Take the time to TRY ON swimsuits and to find a fit and cut that you love. I spent months looking for the perfect swimsuit for a pear shaped body and it paid off. I own a ton of bathing suits that I love and enjoy wearing with or WITHOUT a coverup.
Chafe Happens: Those thunder thighs? I finally had to acknowledge that they rub together. And honestly? One thing that made me uncomfortable wearing a bathing suit or shorts? Thigh chafe. Yes, I'd get an actual rash where my thighs rubbed together. So one staple in my beach bag (or travel bag or luggage on trips)? Chafing Powder Gel. My pick? MONISTAT Care® Chafing Relief Powder Gel® (you can buy it on Amazon HERE) prevents and relieves chafed skin by creating a smooth, breathable moisture-control barrier and it's a GREAT price. It dries smooth and clear and won't rub off on clothes, shorts or cover ups.
Compliment other women. Are you at the pool feeling insecure? Put some positivity out there. Tell three other women you love their suit, their hair, their sunglasses. I promise, the act of speaking positively to other women about their appearance will help you speak positively to yourself.
As summer hits, I hope that this provides you with some encouragement to work on your own body image. And if I can be of support, please let me know!