Summer is bathing suit season. It is a time that brings on insecurities in many women. For me, wearing a swimsuit this summer was not just difficult. I was dreading it. My body is not where I wanted it to be. Yes, there are reasons beyond my control for not having been able to work out and achieve my fitness goals in the beginning of this year. But as I wiped the tears from my eyes as I came home early the other day from the beach in Lido (Venice) Italy, the only thing I thought about was how far from enough I felt.
You see, Italy brings out every possible insecurity in my being.
I could feel myself being overtaken by this sensation of insecurity as we dropped off our rental car and waited for the motoscafo (taxi boat) to take us to Lido. All of a sudden every extra curve and roll that has taken up residence on my body felt…like a prison. I wanted so much to enjoy our time in Venice. I wanted to be able to watch my daughter play on the beaches of my childhood, but all I could think about was how just plain crappy I felt about myself.
It started with the struggle to pick out which clothes I would wear each morning. Wearing spanx in the 90 degree weather was ridiculous, but I did it anyway because it gave me at least one little weapon against some of my rolls. But at the beach — a beach I could not avoid because of my daughter, my family, and my friends — there are no spanx.
My black Athleta bra-cup-sized tankini stuck out like a scarlett letter against the bikinis of women young and old. After a morning in what felt like a prison of discomfort, I came up with a reason to come home early. To shower. To write. To something or other. By the time I got home I could hardly contain my tears. Like a volcanic eruption my tears could not be stopped. Even in the shower I could see the reflection of my body in the mirror and in the empty apartment I cried out, almost desperately in frustration.
I told myself that I would not go back to the beach. I could not. There was no way I could survive the emotion of feeling like that again. Except that I have my daughter, who adores being at the beach. We have our friends, who see spending time at the beach together as the perfect way to catch up. And also? I have almost two more weeks of being here, in an apartment, just steps from the beach, in a city that is too hot to be anywhere else.
I know it is ridiculous. That my size, bathing suit, or fitness level does not matter to my family or friends. But it does to me. More than I even realized.
Except that I have 10 days left and I know I cannot avoid the beach, as much as I would like to. As a mom I owe it to my daughter to put on a happy face and give her the vacation and experience she deserves. As a woman I owe it to myself to be kind to myself. To believe in the idea of being enough. To believe in my power to do something about this. Not because I want to wear a particular size, but because this feeling of cowering in the corner wanting to shut myself off from everyone and everything…is not ok.
Somehow, some way I knew I had to find a way to not cringe every morning as we get ready to head out for a day of sand castles and jumping over waves. So today I went. I put on my tankini. I played in the waves with my daughter. We laughed and laughed. I made it the entire day without leaving early. No excuses. No hiding. Just me. In my tankini.
Did I feel good? No.
But did I stay anyway? Yes. Because cry as I might at the vision of myself in the mirror, I know that I cannot let my poor body image ruin the remaining days of my Italian vacation.