Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bathing Suits and body image

This is the 5th year we're going to the South Pacific at the end of winter. It's fun because plan past the horrid cold winters we have in Canada. It also provides us with an excuse to get new summer clothes that aren't for golfing. The big thing is bathing suit shopping. This year I am getting and existing suit altered rather than buying a new one because I wear one type of suit at home and one when on holidays and I don't spend much time in a swim suit at home anyway.

Guess which is the holiday suit
I'm kind of curious as to how I even got used to wearing a bikini.

Like most women, I stand in front of a mirror with a critical eye. Even with extra good posture my tummy isn't flat, I don't have 6 pack abs and most likely have cellulite. If you want to go in the water, your bathing suit bottom makes panty lines or the suit will ride up. In stores you stand very close to a non-flattering mirror (and they could be hung at a flattering angle) and who wants to go into the more open part of the change room. It's not even the "no one will know me" effect because we go back to the same place every year and the islands are small enough that we run into the same people all over the place.

It's all part of a mental trick of ignoring parts of your body that create a unproductive critical internal talk. First I got used to exercising in front of mirrors. Sure I had to start by focusing on my shoes but now I prefer access to a mirror while exercising. I can see my posture and make sure I'm working the right muscle groups. Then I started wearing matching underwear so I got used to seeing me in a mirror. It helps that I only wear my suit for water activities. For other activities I may have a bikini under a dress or board shorts.

Now when suit hunting I can focus on whether the colours look good and everything I want covered is covered when I move around and feels comfortable. I've gotten comfortable enough that one year our Xmas card had a picture of me in a bikini ... with the Merry Christmas sign startegically placed of course:)