I’ve started this post a few times, and each time I’ve deleted what I’ve written and started over. I can’t quite find the right words to express my thoughts, but I want to get this post out so here goes nothing. By the way, I’m currently listening to my ‘Brave’ playlist while doing this post. I need it.
I have a very good friend, Jennifer, who swims with me each week. She and I have a lot in common, but one of our biggest differences is body image perception. She is rocking it in that department while I still struggle with it nearly every minute of my life. I am getting better though, thanks to her and a ton of other inspiring women in my world who are pouring out body positive messages and experiences. Jennifer has posted numerous pictures of herself in bathing suits. Granted, she is much smaller than I am, but that still takes guts no matter what your size. She absolutely floors me when she does it and I had always hoped one day I would have the courage. Well, this week I threw caution to the wind and just did it.
The response was overwhelmingly positive! It received more ‘likes’ on Facebook and ‘loves’ on Instagram than any picture I’ve ever posted before (and I’ve posted A LOT). I wasn’t scared of negative backlash, though I knew it would be there. I wasn’t scared of the response at all – I posted it for me, not anyone else. I just wanted to see if I could do it. Posting that picture took more courage than I think I had ever mustered in my life and you know what? It turned out to be nothing! I didn’t break the internet (from people closing their mobile devices, apps, or computers) and it didn’t do anything other than build me up. I was completely floored and touched by the words of love, kindness, acceptance, and gratitude that I received – from both women AND men – thanking me for posting it and reminding them to love themselves more.
The point of this post was not to brag about what I did or all the words of love I received – it’s to tell you that your biggest fear or shame likely isn’t that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. I haven’t worn shorts in over 10 years in public because of how I feel about my legs and not wanting to subject others to them. I haven’t worn a 2 piece bathing suit in probably 20 years. I barely wear a one piece and that’s usually once a year to go to a private pool. I don’t want people to see my body, I don’t want to be judged for my stretch marks, my cellulite, or my girth. I don’t want other people to have to look at that. You know what? The more I am around the true, very real, awe-inspiring Birmingham Girls Club and my friends, the more I realize I am just like everyone else. We all have our imperfections that we want to hide, but these women are not hiding them. They are just being themselves and loving who they are, flaws and all. These women, along with Jennifer and more, are really helping me let go of all my hang ups so I can just be me. There aren’t enough words to let them know how much they have helped me and how much I appreciate them, but I’ll continue trying. We’ll continue rocking our respective worlds with self-love, body positive messages, and acceptance. And to all those wonderful friends and strangers who commented on my post on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, thank you for your words. You have no idea how they touched me and truly helped change my life. And thanks to their support, I just bought my first 2 piece bathing suit in over 20 years along with 2 pairs of shorts. Take THAT!