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It Wasn't Itsy-Bitsy Teen-Weeny or Yellow-Polka-Dot

But it was a bikini.

Yes, that's right. I wore a bikini top at the beach yesterday.

For some people, this is a near-mortal sin. For others, it's a big fat "So what?" For me, it was both momentous and (I think) sinless.

You see, I have two major fears regarding bikinis:

(Oh, before I go further - these are a lot of girl-type thoughts. Because I'm a girl-type person. Just so you boys don't feel like it all sneaks up on you. It's coming. Now.)

1. I am afraid I will look unattractive.
2. I am afraid I will look attractive.

It's really been a lose-lose situation for me. In scenario one, all my worst fears of body image and beauty are confirmed, and it turns out that stretch-marks are a deal-breaker with my friends, or the boys I'm hanging out with see me as I am, and poof! there goes any possibility of anything.

In scenario two, I look amazing, but I know it. This goes to my head, of course, and before you know it I'm wearing a bikini everywhere. Or at least men are lusting after me, and then the guilt is on my head!

So why do it? Because I don't think those are good reasons not to wear one. I'm getting a bit tired of living my life and making decisions based on fear. Fear of my body, fear of sexuality.

It seems that, somehow, intentionally or not, I figured those two things out early on. Blame it on the media and the conservative Christian upbringing, if you will. Although I'm pretty sure you can't blame it on my mom. I don't ever remember a negative comment from her about my appearance, and I won't say much about this, but I think my parents have modeled a pretty healthy sexuality to my family. Appropriately, of course.

(Random sidestory - the first time I ever went in La Senza was with my mom and sister, in search of lingerie for my soon-to-be-married cousin. I think I was 16, and completely freaked out/uncomfortable. I told them I couldn't handle the store and would wait for them outside.)

Anyway. Yesterday. I put on my new, $5 from Superstore bikini top, a tank top and some shorts, and I walked to the beach. I found a semi-shaded spot, set down my towel, and started to read. I debated whether I would actually take off my tank top or not. Is this indecent? Am I sure I want the world to see my stomach? How do I sit up without showing rolls? What if someone whistles at me?

Then I had a little self-talk. I reiterated my earlier thoughts: This isn't about sex appeal. You're reading a book and you have your earphones in. You can choose not to notice how others respond. This is about choosing to love your body, to not hide or camouflage. This is about having the self-control not to pay attention to who's paying attention - which is something you do no matter how many layers you've got on.

So I did it. I lay down and I read, and I hardly paid attention to anyone or anything outside of me. When I was done reading, I closed my eyes and rested for awhile. Then I walked down to the water and debated wading. I didn't - too much algae/seaweed grossness. And then, after an hour that felt like 5, I put my shirt back on and walked home.

The point of the story is this: I will not live from fear, and I will not continue in dissatisfaction with who I am.

Will I wear a bikini every time I go to the beach? Definitely not. Will I wear it again? Definitely. Will I sin in both ways, hating my looks and finding pride in them? I'm pretty sure I will. But I think I'm growing, and that's the best part.


nadine said…
You and I are the same person. I don't even need to blog. I can just say, "What she said."

The bikini-at-the-beach adventure is on my list of things to do before I die.

Love you.
Meredith said…
Oh Oh Oh, this was a beautiful read. Next time we're together, we'll do something daring in our bikini tops. (I love your writing. Bring on your writing course!)
keepfishing said…
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