Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bathing Beauty

I hate swimming.  I used to like it as a kid but at some point that all changed.  I hate the smell of chlorine.  I hate walking around on wet, dirty change room floors and pool decks.  I hate having to have another shower in the middle of the day, redo my hair and makeup and reapply sunscreen.  I'm not prissy, I swear.  It's just that I hate doing that stuff enough as it is.  To have to spend 10 minutes AGAIN to blow dry my stupid, unruly curls straight is annoying as all get out...and no, leaving my hair au naturel is not an option.  I hate my curls.  In summer my do untamed becomes a fro.

I also worry about exposure to the sun.  My grandfather died of melanoma and my dermatologist has told me a million times to stay out of the sun.

The problem is, my kids love to be in the water.  Indoor pools, outdoor pools, they love them all.  The only thing that motivates me getting into a pool is the summer heat, that I hate even more than I hate swimming, and wanting to share in the fun with the girls.

More recently, on one of our recent jaunts to the local public pool I realized that I also have a great deal of self-presentation anxiety.  Adam asked why, as one of the women with the best bodies there (in his opinion), I was one of the most covered up.

I know I'm not alone in my angst.  Most women don't love getting into a bathing suit.

For me, it's not because I think I'm fat or have cellulite.  I'm fit, lean and muscular.  But I still have many insecurities.  I have a tattoo I don't like.  I have a weird boyish figure with no waist or hips and a kind of barrel chest, which is strange on a tiny woman.  My boobs have shrunk thanks to years of breast feeding and my belly button is now a funny looking outie thanks to 2 pregnancies.

And there is something else too.  When you wear a bathing suit, you're not wearing much more - and are often wearing much LESS - than you are in your underwear, and frankly, that weirds me out.  People who know me might be surprised because I'm hardly prudish.  I had no problem whipping up my shirt in public anywhere and everywhere to nurse my girls, but somehow this seems entirely different.  The odd thing about bathing suits, unfortunately, is often the more they cover you up, the less flattering they are.

The couple of old bathing suits I have no longer fit properly and because they are all too loose, make me worry I'm going to have a major wardrobe malfunction.  I finally decided it was time to try and remedy this situation.  Last weekend I went bathing suit shopping.  I looked at many but ended up only finding 2 I liked enough to try on.  Fortunately, one of them - an army green Calvin Klein bikini - fit perfectly and is flattering enough.  Although I am determined to let go of my fears and try to rediscover the joy of pools, I did buy a pair of (boys) knee length windsurfing shorts to wear over top...just in case I'm feeling a little shy.

How sad is that?  I'm a 38-year-old woman, mother of 2, psychotherapist, personal trainer and fitness instructor, and I'm still plagued by such silly insecurities.  And I am far more comfortable in my skin now than I was in my 20s.  I wonder when such things will no longer be an issue for me.  In my 40s?  50s?  Sadly, as older folks have warned me, I will probably look back at pictures of myself now and think, "What the heck was I so worried about?"  What am I so worried about?

It wouldn't even cross the girls' minds to worry about such a thing.  They are delightfully unselfconscious as most young kids are.  I hope with everything in me they'll stay this way, but I'm guessing that's next to impossible.  I guess the only thing I can do is suck it up and model the confidence that I want them to always have.  Or at least fake it as best I can!  Just don't expect me to put my head under the water...

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