Growing up in New Jersey, it was basically expected that you would spend your summer “down the shore.” Whether every weekend, or even just one, you’d pull on your swimsuit, pack up the car, and sit in a few hours of traffic on your way to one of the few acceptable locations.
When I was a child, before I developed any body image issues, I wore a swimsuit without care. It literally meant nothing to me to be in a bathing suit or shorts or covered head-to-toe in a Christmas Story-esq snowsuit. I didn’t think about my body in any conscious manner; it just was my body.
Then puberty hit; C cup breasts at age 10, period at 11, fat lumps and cellulite dotting my thighs and hips by 12. My entire concept of my body seemingly changed overnight.
Swimsuits were squirreled away, shorts tossed. Suddenly my body was a burden, a shameful secret that needed to be hidden until it became society-approved.
Post-prom, we trekked down to Seaside (of Jersey Shore fame), got drunk on tequila and Irish cream (which is what happens when you’re 17 and don’t know alcohol), and spent the following day hungover and building sandcastles. I stayed in my jeans, refusing to budge on my self consciousness, while my friends easily pranced around in string bikinis, carefree and loving life.
Even as I unhealthily lost weight during and after college, I would still cover myself in long loose pants and top, only wiggling out of them once prone on a towel. My friends would frolic in the ocean, and I’d raise my sweat-covered head to gaze longingly at the cold water, but I never left my towel. Laying down kept my body out of eye-range, giving me the security that no flub would shake or quake and draw attention to the fact that I was fat.
But all of that changed yesterday.
I’ve pushed myself out of any comfort zone I once possessed, and now, wearing really anything I’ve been told not to wear is embraced as a personal challenge. But even so, I’ve kept my distance from the Jersey shore, choosing to spend my swimwear season dipping into private pools.
Let it be known, that on Sunday, June 11th, I stripped down to my new Eloquii one-piece, and didn’t just stay on my
towel beach chair.
I walked to the water.
I looked at it.
And I actually went in.
(There’s literally video proof!)
The water was icy, and it sent shockwaves into my body that rattled from my bunions to my brain.
Why had I feared this for so long? Why had I ever cared that my thunder thighs were cell-u-lit? So what if my pale legs caressed each other as I awkwardly made my way through the sand…I was finally living my best life doing exactly as I pleased.
I thought back to my pre-pubescent self, when I was last unconscious about my shape or size and just viewed my body as, well, just a body. We claim that we learn as we age, some bullshit about wisdom and maturity…but maybe we had it all right as a child. Our bodies are just a body, not good or bad, just a vessel that allows us to bask in the sunshine, feel the sand in between our toes, and freeze ourselves in the icy waves of the Jersey shore.
Swimsuit: c/o Eloquii
Sunglasses: Mint Market