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*this post contains mentions of eating disorders, self hate, and fat hate
Prepare yourself for outfit posts that look a lot like this one for the next several months. That’s right, bikinis are outfits now. It was 80 degrees outside yesterday, and this is not a game.
Bikinis have become my life blood. I live for this time of year, as my husband watches tiny package after small box come through our front door, knowing each has a teeny bikini in it. I want them all. It’s excessive, yes. We maybe had to buy a little extra storage crate. These things happen.
These things are especially likely to happen when you’ve been told you’re not able to wear a bikini your whole life. I did not grow up a fat kid, in fact I grew up a fairly average sized, athletic, and muscley little babe. I had fat on my belly, and my hips and thighs… you know… as most humans do. I struggled with always being taller and a bit more stalky than everyone else. My family is sturdy, I am strong, my body is not dainty. When I went swimsuit shopping with my mom we would look through the racks at Dillards and see the endless options of S, M, L bikinis. I would try on a large bottom and it would cut into my firm hips.
At the pool I would adjust my suit, hoping that nobody noticed how tight it was. I carried a towel around with me so nobody had to see my body once I was out of the pool. When teenage boys walked by, I would cover my belly with my arm. I developed an eating disorder.
That’s how quickly it happened. One minute I was sad that I couldn’t find a bikini in my size, the next minute I was spending the day monitoring the roars of my stomach and getting quiet satisfaction from the emptiness. I was growing, and my body wasn’t going to give in to my desire to be thin easily. Instead of steadfastly starving myself, I rotated between cycles of restriction and binging. My adolescence was a roller coaster of gaining and losing. I lost touch with the reality of what my body looked like. I hated myself.
At 31 years old, I’ve done a whole hell of a lot of work to heal. I’ve discovered my values. I’ve allowed myself to hurt, be angry, be bitter. I’ve seen what my body can handle, and what it cannot. I know what it looks like to abuse yourself. I know what it feels like to have your commitment to loving yourself questioned, when it’s the only thing keeping you alive. And I know I’m not alone.
Maybe my swimwear collection is a bit excessive. Let’s just say I’m making up for lost time. And maybe I’m going to hang out in my bathing suit a little more than most people. I want to say that I’ve earned it, but the fact is I was always deserving of this comfort in my own skin. Now I’m going to celebrate.