The Journey: ‘Just wear the dang bathing suit’
By SAMANTHA BRAZIE, Special to The Paper
It’s July, Paper readers! The final month before kids go back to school and when we try to squeeze all the summer stuff in before activities pick up in August. This month, I wanted to share my experiences with NOT wearing the swimsuit.
Just in case you haven’t followed my Journey over the last couple of years: I have battled issues with weight all of my life. Gain some, lose some, gain a LOT, lose most of it. This has been going on since I had my first child at 19 years old. However, anyone that knew me in high school, knew that I was never a size 2.
Years of self-discovery has led me to the following realizations: there are genetic issues on mom’s side of the family with obesity; our diet mainly composed of processed foods and pastas with very little ‘nutrition’ (fruits, veggies, whole proteins, etc); and I had hypothyroidism that was not discovered until a few years back.
All that was compounded by a family member that was constantly telling me how fat I was, how ugly being fat was and how I would never get married or have any real friends because no one likes ugly, fat women.
So one might be able to see how getting in a swimsuit (especially after having children) was the lowest priority of all the things I could check off my list. I was paranoid all the time that people were making fun of me. I didn’t want to be the person that was stared at, felt sorry for or the one someone would tell should cover up.
However, out of all that, the biggest reason ended up being that I did not want to embarrass my family. I spent years being made fun of as a child because of my mom’s weight and that was the last thing I ever wanted for my kids to go through. So I covered myself up all the time … I stopped wearing shorts somewhere around the kids being born and didn’t put a pair of them on again until four years ago. When I would take my kids to the pool, we would go first thing in the morning before anyone else got there so I could be with them without anyone seeing me.
That year was the first year I wore short sleeves and shorts around my kids since they were infants. That spring that I wore shorts was the first time I went around more than my closest friends in a swimsuit. What I learned from years of putting myself down was that everything I was doing and all the image issues I had were affecting my kids in a very negative way.
While attempting to protect them from my past experiences, I was passing down my personal anxiety without realizing it. It didn’t matter how many positive things I said to them, I was showing them something very different when they saw how I talked to myself since I avoided anything and everything that made me physically and mentally vulnerable.
I realized three years ago that I was robbing my family and friends (not to mention myself) of memories. Maybe if all of us got out this summer and wore our swimsuits, it would help encourage other people to do the same. We only get so many summers with our family and loved ones, let’s not waste them worrying about how we look – instead, let’s just wear the dang bathing suit.
Questions? Comments? Email me at [email protected].