My First Bikini
July 8, 2014 § Leave a comment
“Go put your bathing suit on, we’re meeting everyone at the lake in twenty minutes,” My mother ordered. I cleared my plate and hustled to my room. Finally, we were on our vacation. The good part of vacation with swimming, boats, and staying up past my bedtime. We had rented a cottage on Sebago Lake in Maine for easy access to fun and family for two whole weeks. I was eight years old and summer never felt so good! This year I was allowed to purchase a two-piece bathing suit, and today it was making it’s formal début.
I had played dress up a couple of times at home, and had a fail in the backyard with a slip ‘n’ slide, but nothing public. I’m not sure if it was peer pressure that led me to bikini-dom or the media’s sexy portrayal of swim separates. Either way, I thought my neon green, pink, and purple suit was my right of passage into womanhood. Only the essentials were covered. Midriff exposure was so sophisticated.
After a struggle getting the top unrolled to it’s appropriate position, I took the bottom one leg at a time. As I pulled it up over my rear it seemed a little low. I tugged at the hips giving myself extreme camel toe. This was not right. Examining myself in the mirror, I imagined walking on the beach. I turned to the side to make sure I looked thin enough, my pale girlish belly round instead of flat. Whoa! This mirror was not helping me, my mirror at home made me look like a Barbie Doll. I did a twirl to make sure it wasn’t just my angle. “KT – Hurry up! People are waiting,” bellowed my ma from the stairs above. I completely lost track of time, I had been examining my body for twenty full minutes.
It was in this moment I felt my first wave of modesty. I second-guessed my choice in purchasing the suit to begin with. I thought about putting on the one-piece my ma insisted I bring as an understudy for when my bikini was wet. “What are you doing down there? Let’s go!” She called as an alarm, time was running out.
Reluctantly, I took one last look of disgust at my stomach and threw on my cover-up. That day my low body image kept me beached on the sand until my jealousy of the kids in the water and encouragement of family prompted me to cannon ball. The rest of the vacation the one-piece got bumped up to first string. With my confidence back and my belly button covered, I got up on water skis for the first time.
Before this bikini, I had never felt self-conscious about my body. Feeling self-conscious is like a disease, and once you contract it you cannot get rid of it. Sure if you try hard enough you can diminish the symptoms, but you will never be fully rid of the toxic mind game you play with your disease. In a full-blown attack you can body shame yourself out of experiences and memories where physicality isn’t even a factor.
Sometimes I wish I had never put on that first bikini, as in many years to follow the bikini has been a trophy to attain. A competition against self, against food, against pleasure. But how much pleasure do we actually get out of beachwear? Isn’t it more important to be healthy and strong? Shouldn’t that be the driving factor and bikinis just side effects?
I try to only examine my body in a bathing suit for less than a minute, because I will always find something I’m unhappy with. When I get to that point, I say to myself, “Fuck it.” Every minute I stare at the unsightly jiggle is a minute I’m taking away from my own enjoyment. I refuse to self sabotage over a swim suit. I will not allow myself to leave dirty footprints in my mind. I make this decision and I feel brave.