Not loving yourself, a female ill
I’ve always had trouble loving my body. The reason is that my body is fat and society says that’s bad. I’ve been overweight since I was a child and, like for many fat people, the causes are multifactorial. So I grew up with this body and for a long time I was a victim of fat-phobia, and sometimes I still am. So you can imagine that putting on a swimsuit was hell for me 😣.
However, you don’t need to have a really fat body to have a complex. We’ve all learned that we should be slim, that we shouldn’t have love handles or cellulite... In short, our bodies should match those of the models in magazines. Except that’s only one body type, and it’s not even reality because the images we see are often airbrushed 🙃!
Good to know
An Ifop study shows that 60% of women have complexes and don’t like their bodies, compared to 33% of men. Worse still, the older we get, the less we like ourselves! The figure is 76% for those aged 65 and over, compared to 49% for those under 35.
The problem is that the slim (and young) bodies of models correspond to the criteria of the male gaze 😐. Society makes us understand that we always need to be desirable, but the injunctions are impossible to keep. It’s normal that we end up feeling bad after a while. So we prefer to hide our bodies, which of course is impossible in a swimming costume.
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How do you overcome the swimming costume ordeal?
Getting into a swimming costume is an ordeal for me and for you. Well, I’m over it now. But how? Here’s what helped me, whether in the short term, to jump into my swimsuit with peace of mind, or in the long term, to feel better about myself.
Choose the right swimming costume
Yes, it sounds stupid when you put it like that, but to overcome this difficulty, you need to feel comfortable in your swimming costume. Bikinis weren’t really for me, they revealed far too much . I’m much more comfortable in a one-piece swimming costume or, at the very least, a second one with high-waisted bottoms. The good thing is that over time, brands have understood that they need to diversify their swimwear and offer lots of models so that there’s something for everyone.
Then, beyond choosing a cut, you need to focus on one little thing that makes you love your costume. Just like any piece of clothing, I buy my swimsuits based on a little detail that makes my heart go boom 💓. I have one that has a halter top with a little bow, another has pretty cut-outs on the hips, a third has pink gingham patterns... In short, choose a swimming costume that feels good and that you’re comfortable in.
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The extra accessory ➕
Another thing that helped me a lot in the beginning was accessorizing my swimming costume. I used to add a sarong at the time, but now beach dresses are very fashionable. Then you can wear glasses and a hat. In short, you do everything to reassure yourself with little things that feel good. Little by little, you’ll be able to take off your accessories and put on your swimming costume without restraint.
Take it one step at a time
A friend of mine always says that you should take things “one step at a time”. If getting into a swimming costume is a big ordeal for you, avoid going to a beach in the south of France in the middle of August. You need to start small and set yourself achievable goals so that you become more and more comfortable.
To start with, you put your swimming costume on in your garden or at home. Then take it up a notch and invite some girlfriends over for a supportive afternoon of sunbathing in the garden. Then you can try a public place, but always with your support team. Finally, you can consider the beach, but start with Brittany before heading for the French Riviera, because at least the beaches there are bigger (or is it because there are fewer people 😬?).
Little by little, you’ll feel more and more at ease, and you’ll be able to expose yourself to the gaze of others without dreading it. In fact, it’s the sinews of war 👀.
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Work on your thoughts
You can’t get inside people’s heads. You don’t know what they’re thinking. But sometimes you can misinterpret a glance, when the person has just made a strange face because of indigestion 😬. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea! We often imagine the worst things, that other people will judge us and think we’re ugly or something. The reality is that most people don’t even notice us! That’s why we need to work on our cognitive distortions.
To do this, you need to learn to spot them. A good clue is sentences that start with “if”: “If I wear a swimming costume, other people will look at me and think I’m hideous. If they see my stomach, they’ll be disgusted. Etc.” Negative qualitative adjectives should also be avoided when looking in the mirror: ugly, disgusting, deformed, etc.
Personally, I don’t include “fat” in there, because for me, it should be a neutral word. I know that most people are afraid of being fat, but we mustn’t demonize this condition by associating fatness with being ugly/repulsive!
👉 Rather than focusing on the things we don’t like about ourselves, it’s better to concentrate on the things we do like about ourselves: “The color of this swimming costume suits my complexion, I like the way it brings out my breasts, my back looks amazing in this swimming costume”. Yes, I know, it’s not easy, but it’s a great way to build self-confidence.
That’s the main problem. If wearing a swimsuit is an ordeal, it’s because we have low self-esteem. Our self-esteem is so low that we’re desperate for validation from others at any cost. Because there are so many injunctions, we’re completely undermined and disconnected from our reality. However, when the body-positive movement was born, it helped me a lot to overcome all my limiting beliefs about my appearance. Above all, it allowed me to discover women with the same build as me, who loved themselves and looked amazing!
Aren’t all these women sublime?!
Well now, I’m convinced that body-positivity has its limits, but the important thing to remember is that diversity counts and that it can help you enormously on the road to acceptance. And if there’s one thing that will make you look great in a swimsuit, it’s radiance and not giving a damn about others. Self-confidence is the best thing you can put on, so you might as well dare to wear it, right 😉?
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Editor’s note: When stripping off becomes a source of suffering
The swimming costume ordeal isn’t an easy one, whatever your body type or gender, because men are also affected. For some of us, getting into a swimming costume becomes downright impossible or a major source of suffering. If stripping off is painful for you, whatever your build, it’s important to make an appointment with a psychologist to get some help.
🤗 Understanding yourself, accepting yourself, being happy... It’s here and now!
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