Bikinis Are Not the Boss of Me

target bikinisLet’s talk for a second about this photo. First, I want to raise my coffee cup in salute to the fact that I’m about to go to Target all by myself and I’m gonna walk real slow and pretend I’m on vacation. Might even linger in the Dollar Spot and buy something sparkly or with trendy script font that I don’t really need, but can’t resist because well….Target.

But that’s not what I’m most excited about. Mama’s got a RETURN to do. See, inside that bag are swimsuits. Two-piece swimsuits, to be exact. Bikinis. I spent the better part of an hour a couple weeks ago in the fitting room at Target, trying on top after bottom, in different colors and combinations, all in an attempt to find a two-piece swimsuit I felt good in. I was literally sweating and panting as I put one on, fumbled with the clasp, crammed my breasts into the top, examined my reflection in the mirror, grimaced, took it off as quickly as possible. REPEAT. My fingers actually got exhausted by the end and I had a hard time getting my own bra back on to get dressed.

There I was, a grown woman and mom of three, crying in the dressing room with my bra hanging from my shoulders (and my breasts hanging lower), standing in a pile of discarded swimsuits and dreams.

I was texting my BFF in desperation, hoping she could talk me off the ledge. I even posted to Facebook, because that’s what you do when you are crying in a dressing room with your boobs hanging out. Obviously. 

Has anyone ever actually died of embarrassment in the Target dressing room while trying on swimsuits? #askingforafriend

It’s no secret I struggle with body issues. I wanted so badly for them to fit. Wanted so badly to feel sexy and confident in these suits. I tried the high-waisted bottoms that so many of the models in the “body positive” catalog looked so fabulous in. I even bought one. I also bought a couple tops that I hoped would look better when I got them home to my bedroom mirror and without that horrendous Target dressing room lighting that makes everyone look like they are recovering from a bad bout of mono.

But they still weren’t right when I got them home. They weren’t right when I tried them on for my husband. They weren’t right when I worked out nearly every day for a week and cut my calorie intake in half. They weren’t right.

And since they weren’t right, I figured that meant I was wrong.

After all, I was the common denominator here, right? Every single one of those dozens of swim pieces had been tested and found wanting, not because there was something wrong with them, but because I WAS NOT RIGHT FOR THEM. Maybe next year, I told myself. I would eat better, work out harder and lose enough weight to try again. Next year will be better.

I went on an overnight at a hotel and I dug my trusty one-piece suit from last year out of the drawer because it was all I had. I put it on to head down to the hot tub and I turned to look at myself in the mirror.

And I looked…..GOOD. No, I looked great. I smiled for a moment and dared to think I even looked a bit sexy! That one-piece suit that I had crammed into my sock drawer for not being good enough fit me perfectly. It hugged my curves, disguised my tummy, and showed my assets in a way that was tasteful and flattering.

I wasn’t what was wrong. My expectations were.

No one told me that rocking a two-piece suit was required to pass Confidence Class. I did that to myself. And when they looked all wrong on me, I was quick to assume that the problem was me, not the suits.

I do this a lot. I see a goal or an achievement that others have acquired and I think, “There it is. That’s the thing. Once I can do/be/have THAT, I will feel better. I will have accomplished something. I will have made it.”

And then I kill myself working toward that goal only to find that goal was never made for me in the first place. My perfect fit had been crammed in the sock drawer all along.

So I returned the damn swimsuits. And when the sweet gal at the Target customer service counter asked, “Was there anything wrong with them?” I smiled and calmly replied, “No. They just weren’t for me.”

I bought myself a Starbucks, picked up something with glitter and script font in the Dollar Spot, and walked real slowly around Target, with a little smile plastered to my face. Because bikinis are not the boss of me. 

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