50. Two Bathing Suits

50. Two Bathing Suits

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Confident

Two Bathing Suits

It’s hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head.

~Sally Kempton

I had always struggled with body issues. I had a very difficult childhood, and I was taught to be ashamed of myself. If I gained weight, I was scrutinized. If I lost weight, I was questioned, too.

I learned to make myself disappear to avoid getting in trouble. That meant not eating, or trying to snack on something late at night when everyone was asleep.

Once I got married, I had a supportive husband and I started eating better. I wasn’t overweight by any measure, but I still felt shame about my body.

The only time I ever felt good about myself was when I was pregnant. I knew my body was performing an incredibly important role, the nurturing of life. I realized how much strength and power I had as a woman, a mother.

Of course, postpartum, all of those feelings quickly disappeared.

The yo-yo diets started again, and it was always the same thing: Lose and feel great. Gain and feel like a complete failure.

Some years ago, I lost all of the excess weight. I felt amazing, on top of the world! I couldn’t believe I actually did it. Shopping was suddenly so much fun, as opposed to the dread I used to feel in those horribly lit fitting rooms. I had such confidence; I thought nothing could get in my way.

Until I put the weight back on, and then some.

Last year we were planning a trip to Greece. That meant beautiful beaches and plenty of time in bathing suits. I was excited and horrified at the same time. What was I going to do? I knew deep down that I would regret hiding myself. If I didn’t get in the water with my family I would feel terrible.

When the time came to shop for a bathing suit, I was terrified. My eleven-year-old son offered to go with me for support.

When I found one that seemed to fit, even though I hated how I looked, I let my son come into the changing room to see it. His eyes grew wide and he said, “Mama, you look so beautiful!”

I walked out of the store with two bathing suits that day, a first for me.

I started to tear up then and there, and he hugged me, repeating himself, and asked me to please buy not only the one I was wearing, but the other one in another color as well.

I walked out of the store with two bathing suits that day, a first for me.

That summer, I spent as much time as possible in the sea, and it was the most incredible, healing experience I had had in a long time. When we went for a boat tour in the Aegean, we had the opportunity to go snorkeling. My son took my hand and we went into the water together.

This summer, I am looking forward to pools and beaches yet again. My body shame has disappeared, and I have never felt better about myself.

My son had no idea what he did for me, but it was transformative, and I am so grateful to him.

~Tamara Albanna

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