OK, Not Really! But it sure can seem like it.
So my sister posted this article on FB about moms forgetting about how they look and wearing a bathing suit to have fun with their kids. I liked the article, but as I am a mom who has always worn a bathing suit, and loved summer, sun, and fun no matter what I looked like, I didn’t have an epiphany over it. I may have even felt a little smug.
Until I went bathing suit shopping. Last year I had to break down and buy a new suit because my old one, after about 6 years, was threadbare. And while I’m all for flaunting it, I didn’t want to accidentally flaunt more than I intended. Of course this summer I am nearly 70 lbs lighter so there was no choice but to buy yet another suit.
Now everyone who loves shopping for bathing suits, raise your hands. Go on.. anyone?? But I really thought I’d be kind of into it this year. I’ve enjoyed my last few shopping trips, trying on new clothes, shopping in regular stores with discount prices. I thought this would be a similar experience.
I forgot one key element – bathing suits have their own agenda. For one thing, whatever size you are in real life, you are two or three sizes larger in bathing suits. I was reminded of this truism after trying on 4 different suits in the regular part of the store. None came close to covering all that is me. Somewhat mollified, I reminded myself that I still buy my bras in the plus department, so I headed to the other side of the store to find the big-girl suits. Of course the pickings are slim on that side of the store. I wanted a one-piece but would have settled for a tankini if it didn’t have too big of a skirt. My days of tent dress bathing suits are long, long gone.
The 16W was ridiculously small and 18W was not much better. To my surprise and chagrin I ended up with a 20W suit that looked a little tight, but mostly fit. It didn’t really flatter, but it was a one-piece with decent breast support. I can run, swim, and play in it without worrying about anything popping out. It was black and white herringbone pattern, so not really as eye-catching as last years cheetah print suit, but at least it wasn’t all black.
Now here’s the strange thing: I went home feeling a bit fatter than I had felt coming into the store. I didn’t realize it at first. I just know that I felt kind of fat. My jeans felt tighter. My legs and arms felt thicker. I started obsessing about my food. Had I been overdoing it? Maybe I should have skipped the homemade smoothie for desert? Had I been skimping on some of my runs the past week? Was this whole food program thing falling apart on me?
I didn’t connect any of these feelings to the suit at that time, but the fat feeling stayed with me. The next morning I decided just to see how bad things were. It wasn’t my weigh-in day, but damn it I was going to weigh in and face the damage! Instead, I found I had lost another two pounds. Not two pounds in two weeks, but two pounds in 5 days.
Staring at empirical evidence, I still had trouble believing it. I felt fat. I looked fat. But I was thinner than I had been in about 7 years. It took me a while to piece it together. When I woke up yesterday morning and put on the white capri jeans I felt good. I felt strong, breezy, and even a little (dare I say) pretty. When I got home that night I felt sluggish, fat, and miserable. What had happened?
It finally dawned on me that everything had changed in that changing room (no pun intended). Something about pulling on and off spandex suits and examining yourself in front and back mirrors under fluorescent lighting is so demoralizing that even someone who generally feels good about herself, can fall apart.
Oh, I have so much more work to do on myself. I talk a good self-acceptance game, but when the going gets tough I get tough on myself.