It finally happened. My favorite swimsuit, died. I have had that swimsuit for 10 years. I wore it a lot! And this week, I wore it for the last time. When pool season started a couple of months ago, I noticed that my swimsuit was getting thin…REALLY thin. Uh Oh!
And this week I put it on to jump in my pool and the skirt hung down to my knees. The material had separated. It was done. Time to throw it away and move on.
But THAT meant a trip to the store to buy another swimsuit.
THAT was terrifying. Trying on clothes in stores, looking at my reflection in the mirror, has never been my favorite thing to do. Not when I was at my heaviest. And not when I was at my thinnest. Those mirrors are not flattering. And looking at my flaws was discouraging.
We are our worst critics and it is easier to see the flaws….. those things we don’t like about our bodies tend to stand out, making us notice them first. I know…. It is a mindset thing…..
So, the thought of trying on a swimsuit was just a bit stressful. But I had to do it. It would be far worse to buy the swimsuit that I had not tried on first and have it not fit or not cover certain parts of my body. And I know that would be far worse, because I have purchased swimsuits, more than once or twice in my lifetime, that I did not try on first. And those NEVER worked out!
I headed to the store and found a few suits to try on, in a size I thought would work and styles I felt would cover what I wanted covered and colors that would make me smile. I was trying to see the positive.
And then I stepped into the dressing room….. Ugh! Those mirrors! Swimsuit shopping is far worse than any clothes shopping trip. At least with shirts, I could find layers to cover the parts I was ashamed of, the extra weight I was carrying….layers creating the illusion that it wasn’t there, that I was thinner than I thought. Layers would hide the flaws.
A swimsuit though, hid nothing. Yes, a skirted swimsuit would help to hide the hips, but the rest, well it was all there for anyone and everyone to see. A swimsuit hid none of the flaws.
That is HARD to see. REALLY HARD! Especially for a person who is hard on themselves. There is so much body shaming in our world, so many faked and photo-shopped photos of how a woman’s body “should” look, that it is often difficult to see beyond those flaws, to see the positives, to love our bodies and celebrate what they can do. And standing in that dressing room, reminded me just how hard it is and that I still have work to do, myself.
Because, if all I see or look for is the flaws or the negatives, well THAT is absolutely ALL I will see. And I will NEVER see the positives or the beauty and strength. I have worked long and hard on this. I have struggled to change the mindset, sometimes successfully, sometimes failing. I have done the exercises talked about in WW workshops, where I look in the mirror and find the things I love about my body, the strengths I have.
Standing in that dressing room, yesterday, trying on quite a few swimsuits, I realized that, yes I still have work to do. I don’t know that I will ever fully switch my mindset, but I can be more aware and mindful of my thoughts and the words I say to myself. And thanks to my journey with WW, I have the tools to help me change my mindset and the tools that help me to be mindful of what I am saying to myself and HOW those words affect me.
Yes, I was stressed. Yes, I was dreading the mirror. Yes, I was dreading all the flaws that the swimsuit would highlight. But I still went swimsuit shopping. I faced the mirror. I faced the criticism running through my mind. I confronted the words of my dad, that I still hear, all these many years later. And I tried on swimsuits. Oh, some were awful! Just awful. But I found two swimsuits that didn’t make me completely cringe….. actually, they made me smile because they were filled with color, LOTS of bright colors rather than the solid black I usually picked.
I faced my dread and shut down the negative thoughts as I stood there in that dressing room. Okay, I may not be where I want to be. I may not have that thin waste, and I may see too much loose skin. But, there are positives and THAT is where my focus needs to be, something I have learned to look for and notice through my journey with WW (Weight Watchers). And it is the lessons learned and aha moments in workshops that helped me switch what I was thinking while standing in front of the dressing room mirror in a flaw-revealing swimsuit. I could see some positives– I have legs I love. My legs are strong. I tan easily in the summer sun. My smile brightens my eyes. And my eyes come from my birth mom. THOSE are the positives I will focus on for now. Those are the images that will keep me going as I work toward my goals and toward becoming my best self.
Changing my mindset. Thinking differently. Choosing differently. THAT is a part of this journey I am on. I may be my own worst critic. I may not love everything about my outward appearance. BUT if I stop looking for, purposely looking for, those negative flaws and instead CHOOSE to see the positives, well then I WILL reach my goals. Because our choices reflect our thoughts.
CHANGE YOUR THOUGHTS AND YOU WILL CHANGE YOUR WORLD!
I am doing that now. I am refocusing on the positives, thanks to the death of my favorite swimsuit!