body image · Guest Post

Free the bellies! (Guest post)

So I am just back from vacationing in Cuba (I know, there are worst things to do in April). And I did it! I bought 3 bikinis and actually packed them and wore them to the beach. My tankinis tried to come along. They were calling me from the closet where they are stored with an old one piece. They were trying to convince me I was making a mistake. I stood fast and refused to take them. What a great decision! This April I freed my belly!

Last summer Natalie published a really inspiring post on her bikini body. I commented back then that I was going to do the same for my next vacation. I failed at that because I went to Mexico in December and wore my tankinis. I convinced myself that I had lacked time to go bikini shopping. My options are limited to a specialty store because of my size which is not catered by regular stores so it is not like it would have taken me days to visit all the stores and choose from, oh so many options! So even though I told myself a tale of lacking time I really simply chickened out. Why? Body image issues!

The last time I exposed my belly in public was some 25 years ago. I enjoyed my day at the beach wearing my two piece and then pictures came. Those were the days when you actually had to take the roll to the pharmacy for processing and pay .99 cents for an extra set of your 24 pictures. So one week later, when I saw the pictures of myself enjoying myself in the water and with family I was unhappy with how I looked. Why? I did not look like a model wearing a two piece (who does? models do). The comment of my then spouse that maybe I was too old now to wear a bikini sank in and confirmed that as of then I was going to embrace one piece suits (another of many reasons why that person is an “ex” now). From then on I only wore those or sometimes even shorts and a t-shirt, perhaps even a long-sleeved t-shirt.

Never mind that I had had great fun that day wearing my bikini at the beach and that I am smiling and laughing on all pictures (I just looked at them again and I truly look like I was having a lot of fun). But the body issues took over and tainted the memories of that day and the perception of the pictures and the body on display. Reading Natalieh’s post last summer I went back to the pics and thought: heck (actually it was more something like: screw this bullshit!). I chickened out in December and regretted that. So this time, one week before leaving, I went to the store and bought myself what I needed and resisted my inner narrative that my body is not to be exposed.

That first day, I put on my favourite of the 3 to help myself. It also helped that I recently got a great ribcage tattoo that I want the world to see (I had actually shown my belly to many more people since I got it than I did in the last 25 years just to show off the tattoo!). I put on my beach cover up and went to the beach. And then there was that great, frightening but mostly great, moment of taking the cover up off. What I felt? Great! I felt free!

Freeing my belly also felt like freeing my mind. The feeling of wind and water caressing my belly skin was fantastic. I am never going back! Screw the tankinis and my one piece with them. Screw narratives that say bikinis are for the young, thin, and flawless. I am strong and healthy but not thin and flawless and that is perfectly alright! I never felt as sexy as embracing that. Not that that was the goal but rather a surprising outcome, surprising to me anyways.

So please, if you have not done so yet, free your belly! You will feel great in so many ways! And thanks again Natalieh for your great post that triggered this.

This is my fave red number. I am not in it because I suck at selfies and was by myself so no trusted photographer available.

PS: Don’t be surprised if you find me wearing my bikini top with my shorts working in my summer office when we experience Southern Ontario heat this summer. Once you have freed a belly, it remains free!

14 thoughts on “Free the bellies! (Guest post)

  1. I have a beach vacation coming up and this post is tempting me to go bikini shopping! Thanks! Where did you buy that beautiful red one? (Not asking for a friend.)

    1. Found it at Just for You in Waterloo. The brand is Fantasie.

  2. Great post! Thanks for being so awesomely uninhibited, and so honest about what a battle it was to get there 🙂 Cheers from Australia, G

  3. I was sure my last holiday was going to be the first I took in a bikini, embracing my body for the first time. However the nearer the holiday got the more I realised that just as you should be free and at peace to wear a bikini if you goddamn want to, you should be just as free and at peace with the decision not to wear a bikini. That wearing my £12 Tesco swimsuit and still appreciating my body whilst I did it was just as good as finally wearing a bikini.
    I still wonder about the freeing the belly and the sheer joy of feeling the wind and the sun on my stomach, but I am not going to obsess about either being a) thin enough to wear a bikini or b) being body positive enough to wear a bikini anymore.

    I’m glad you had a lovely holiday 🙂

    1. Helen, you do you! You are completely right: one has to do what one feels good about and not obsessing over such things is key, whichever beach wear that ends up to be.

  4. I was just reading a poem by Vern Rutsala (The Fat Man), it is a beautiful poem set to embrace the “flawed and fat” bodies which we always paint as ugly in our societies. Your article is also beautiful and I like how you appreciate your body and thus encouraging other women to feel as free and comfortable with their bodies. I wish every woman with insecurities can have your courage and start setting themselves free

    1. Thank you. I am not sure we can ever get rid of insecurities but sometimes one needs to do the scary things!

  5. I love this post. I really do. I am still stuck in the land of one pieces and I admire you. I hope you loved Cuba!

  6. I’m a month behind commenting but I LOVE this post! I also love that red bikini and I bet you rocked it. I too go back and forth about bikinis and tankinis. I have many of each and I mostly wear the bikinis when I’m on the boat. One of my favourite things about life on the boat is that I get to wear bikinis all the time and you’re right about that feeling of freedom. Thanks for a great post.

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