After wearing the same swimsuit for basically 10 years my husband decided he needed a new one. Typical. I think I need a new swimsuit every time I walk into Target. He needs a new one once every decade. Penelope, my daughter, and I decided to join him on his trip for new trunks. We went to a department style store down the shore. Since I am 4 months post-baby body, I have zero desire to be in a dressing room so I browsed the Home Goods Style beach decor section while he hit the men’s section to look for his new suit. As Penelope and I were waiting for him I overheard 2 women talking. (If you know me, you know I LOVE listening to other people talk. I’m fascinated by people so I naturally eavesdrop often)
Their conversation went like this:
Lady 1: “Oh you found a swimsuit, that’s great!”
Lady 2: “A miracle. Actually going to buy two. I’m shocked anything in this whole store even fit me”
Lady 1: “Good for you, I’ve been crying in the dressing room for 40 years trying on swimsuits, I’m not even going in today.”
In that moment I, of course, felt sad for that woman, after all, we’ve all been there. Who doesn’t dread the dressing room? But what I really felt was a sense of unity. I understood her. It’s as if all of our swimsuit dressing room tears comes together to build the ocean. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you weigh, everyone has felt like crying in a dressing room- especially when trying on swimsuits.
It’s bad enough trying to find clothes that fit the bodies we constantly wage a war against, but finding a swimsuit is just awful. We torment ourselves. We want to look a certain way and be a certain size, but when we get in a dressing room and realize we aren’t, we panic. We resort to finding the swimsuit that has the most coverage for the most areas.
We all feel uncomfortable in swimsuits. And the vehicle that gets us the swimsuit, the dressing room, is where the madness starts. In actuality, the dressing room is a quiet place. So why, in reality, does it sound louder than a football stadium? Because the voices in our head are screaming hatred at us. The mirror turns into a human who starts spitting insults. It really is horrifying. Then we end up hiding our body in a beach chair scared to walk to the water. We all think everyone on the beach or at the pool is looking at us, judging us. It sucks because our love for the sun and summer is clouded with emotional turmoil over our beach bodies. It doesn’t need to be this way and here’s why.
I continued to think about that lady throughout the day as I sat on the beach. Since that moment, I started taking mental inventory of people’s words and thoughts about themselves vs. my feelings about them. For example, whenever someone said something about themselves, I thought about how I viewed them. It was always the opposite. Vice versa, I noticed every time I pointed out a flaw on my body, a friend responded with the opposite of my feelings without hesitation.
Here is what is probably another truth. We’re all looking at each other in envy, not judgement. Imagine that! Imagine you walk to the water, and every person around you wants a part of your body that you hate. They admire the way you look in the swimsuit. Everyone around you only sees your beauty, not your flaws.
When we are able to change the way we think about our bodies using this approach, every summer day is sunnier and dressing rooms are a much happier place. Life is too short for tears in the dressing rooms, ladies!
Next time you stand up from your chair and walk to the water this summer, remember that someone is admiring something on your body!