I am grateful for the inspiration I receive from the women in my life; those whom I know as well as though I witness from afar.
I had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica this winter. Even more breathtaking than the white sandy beaches, the tepid blue ocean, the warm sun-filled days and the delicious fresh caught seafood, were the women I had the pleasure of witnessing.
These women walked the beaches with a confidence and comfort that was undeniable. The size of the swimsuit did not seem to have a correlation with weight or age. Unlike my experiences in the states, where larger and older women would only don themselves in one-piece suits, the women I saw wore only two-piece suits. That’s right. Two piece suits, bikinis and even thongs.
Wow. What planet am I on? Who are these women and how did they get to feel this kind of comfort in their bodies. Did they have a judgment voice or did they simply ignore it?
I discovered a newfound feeling and it was of great surprise. As I witnessed these women my judgment voice sounded when I wore my one-piece suit. This sure was different. This voice told me I am a frump in my one piece suit. Really? Are you kidding me? Well, here is the thing. I actually brought along a two-piece suit from my past life. I am well aware that there is more acceptance of body size and age outside of our country and I wanted that suit “just in case”.
So I experimented with the one piece and two-piece swimsuits. What I noticed was that in that context I felt more comfortable in my two-piece suit. I “fit in” with the crowd when I wore my bikini and I felt good (except that my belly incurred a fire red sunburn the first day I wore it because she had been well covered for more than 10 years).
OK. So what does this mean about what we can do as a community of women? As I see it, we could choose to be change agents and start to wear two-piece swimsuits, perhaps in groups, if that feels less scary. Still too threatening? We could start by having two-piece swimsuit pool parties to gain comfort and then we proceed to public beaches and pools.
Whatever the plan, for me what is important is how the context shapes how we feel about our bodies and ourselves. And perhaps if we come together we can change these outlandish rules that confine us and contribute to body biases that do not allow us a full range of feeling, sensing and doing.
I’m not quite sure I am ready for a thong…though I have enjoyed some thong fantasies. 😉
Robin Okun, LMSW, is a certified Nia Instructor, Movement Therapist, Center for Eating Disorders, Director of Mindful Movement Studio, Ann Arbor, MI, 734-395-2624, firstname.lastname@example.org