Tuesday, May 6, 2014

a weighty conversation, part two

Over Easter break, I went shopping with my mom, which is usually where I try on a bunch of stuff and she MIGHT get one thing for herself. This time, however, she was the one who brought more than 6 items to the Target dressing room, some of those items being swimwear. My mom, despite the fact that her nickname was "Slim," is very conservative when it comes to her swimsuits because she is a mom of two older children, and therefore doesn't think she can wear anything that would expose her midriff (although she totally could).

I decided to join her and picked out a cute pair of shorts, a swim top, and two pairs of bikini bottoms. My mom asked me to look at something she had tried on, so I went next door to her dressing room wearing the bikini top and bottoms. Upon seeing me, she said, "I don't think you look good in that." I retorted, "Why, because I'm too fat?" and she made a face with wide eyes and nodded solemnly.

I'm not gonna lie - that right there kinda broke my heart. I have never thought of myself as "too fat" for anything, although I will admit I do prefer a certain level of modesty and agree that some things look better on size 2s than on me. And it is important to note that she said I was the one who didn't look good, not the swimsuit, which made it so much worse.

I like to think I suffer from body dysmorphia in that I think of myself as thinner than I actually might be, which is opposite of how most body dysmorphia works. When I look in the mirror, I of course see things I don't like, but I also see myself as proportional. Nothing is too big or small or ugly. But when she said that, I began to question whether I was physically attractive at all. I asked my boyfriend and he of course rejected my mom's remark and said I wasn't fat at all.

So which is right - my perception of my body or my mom's? Should I be allowed to continue wearing bikinis, or will I be banished to one-piece purgatory because of her comment? It really comes down to two things: whether I care more about what my mom thinks or my own comfort level. I know she meant well, but it's comments like that that destroy girls' self-confidence, and it hurts more coming from the ones we love than from strangers.

Whenever I'm feeling discouraged about my body, I list things I like about myself: my hair, my freckles, my eyes, my ears, my nose, my mouth, my teeth, my boobs, my waistline, my back, my forearms, my hands, my fingers, my hips, my butt, my legs, my feet, my toes. There are more items on that list than there are on the list of things I don't like about myself. So why should my perceived level of physical attractiveness be determined by the small list of things I don't like about myself when there are so many more things I do like about myself? The only person who gets to decide how you feel about yourself is you.

So in an attempt to compromise with my well-meaning mother, I have been shopping for more modest two-pieces that enhance my favorite features rather than accentuate my least favorite. But one-pieces are gross and make my shoulders look manly so that's going to remain a no-go. The point of this is, if you feel comfortable wearing a bikini, wear one. And if you don't, don't. I feel fine in a bikini whereas my mother does not, and THATS OK. Don't let others define you, YOU define you. As Kevin Gnapoor says, "Don't let the haters stop you from doing your thang." And please, love your body. It's the only one you've got.


  1. Love this. Especially the quote "the only person who gets to decide how they feel about your body is you." That is so true!

  2. Honest, poignant, and affirming. Thank you for writing this.