Vacation Epiphany

Last summer, I tried on my swimsuit(s) for the first time in about six years. Connor and I would be going to Dayton to visit my grandparents, and we’d be swimming in the hotel pool during our downtime. My tankinis from 2010 were at least a size too big… but the bikini top I’d worn a grand total of one time still fit, thanks to being a halter with ties at the back and neck. I didn’t have time to shop for a new suit; the bikini top (with a slightly oversized bottom) would have to do.

Surprisingly enough, the two-piece was very comfortable to wear (apart from me constantly tugging at the too-large bottoms). Mentally, it helped that Mom and Connor and I were the only people in the pool that afternoon — and Mom kept telling me how good I looked in my two-piece.

I started to believe it.

Fast-forward to earlier this year, when I was planning for last week’s Spring Break trip to Mexico. Remembering how I felt in my bikini last year, I decided to purchase a cuter striped top and a couple of skirted bottoms. I actually did buy a tankini top from Amazon, but after buying one size and then another, and neither really feeling right, I returned them and decided to stick with my original plan.

I’m glad I did.

Once we got to the resort on Monday evening, swimming was one of our first orders of business, after eating at the snack bar and exploring the grounds. As we walked around, I took a good look at my fellow vacationers. Some were svelte young adults, sure, but many were middle-aged or older, of all shapes and sizes. Apples and pears and others, proud and pouchy mom-bellies, midriffs and thighs and beer bellies… and every last person was just enjoying their tropical vacation, and not giving a single care about what anyone else thought. Certainly no one gave me any stink-eye for walking past in all my lumpy, pear-shaped glory.

We swam at least once every day we were in Mexico (except our last day, since we left the resort at 8:20am), and not once did I feel self-conscious in my bikini. In fact, we walked around a water park all day in our swimsuits with no cover-ups (Aaron and Connor in their rashguards were more covered than I was), and I didn’t think twice about it.

Me in my bikini holding a red carnation

(Well, I actually did wish I had my cover-up during lunch; it felt weird being at a fancy-ish Mexican buffet in only my bathing suit and sandals.)

I seriously feel like I’ve turned a corner. I’ve seen what the range of “normal” bodies looks like, up close and personal — not on a website’s collection of “this is what a size 14 looks like” photos, and not just seeing numbers on a chart, but actual, real people out enjoying their vacation and being themselves, no matter what size or shape they might be.

No one is judging me (or has the right to judge me) for my size or shape or the fit of my clothes. No one cares but me, and I find that I feel comfortable with my body now, like never before.

It’s empowering.

I’m not done improving myself physically — I still want to lose a pants size or two, lose some fat, firm things up, et cetera — but I never counted on how much I needed my own buy-in on myself as I am in this moment. I’m my own cheerleader now, instead of being my own bully.

Me in my bikini about to enjoy some peach melba

I may never buy another one-piece or tankini again.

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