It is that time of year when articles start popping up left and right on fitness sites about getting that “bikini body” or “beach body”. There are countless exercise regimens, nutrition plans and diet products that market behind this concept. But those articles, diets and exercise plans really aren’t about fitness. They highlight a culture of body shaming that is being perpetuated in our culture often through a disguise of health and fitness. Not only is it superficial and a really shitty thing to do, but it also distorts the perceptions of health and fitness in our culture. It changes the way people approach fitness & nutrition by making it more about being skinny than about overall health and wellbeing. Part of this emphasis on weight is because of the chronic conditions associated with being overweight/obese, but part of the emphasis is likely because of prejudiced beauty standards in our culture. If the discussion of weight in health and fitness was strictly scientific in nature, fitness magazines would not say “look your best” or “earn that bikini body” when talking about weight loss.
The Bikini Body
There has been a myth that has been created that you need to look a certain way to wear a bikini.
There is no such thing as an “appropriate” body for wearing a bikini. Some people have the nerve to attempt to rationalize their prejudice by saying being fat is unhealthy and that is why fat people shouldn’t wear a bikini. Last I checked, whether you wear a bikini or not has nothing to do with fitness. The only difference wearing a bikini has in the realm of health is that it increases the surface area of your skin that may or may not get a sunburn (but there is sunscreen for that).
There are also people who attempt to rationalize the idea of an appropriate size for wearing a bikini by saying seeing certain people in bikinis makes some people uncomfortable. Their discomfort is because of their prejudice, not because there is anything harmful or wrong with anyone of any size wearing a bikini.
What someone decides to wear for swimsuit season is a matter of what they feel best in. There is no justification for body shaming. Body shaming is horrible and it certainly has no place in health and fitness.
Being able to love and accept yourself is key to living a healthy lifestyle. Everyone deserves to love their body. Everyone deserves to feel beautiful. I believe that part of loving your body is making healthy choices, but part of it means accepting yourself as you are. It means making the choices based on what you consider the best version of yourself. That means something different to each individual.
I think loving yourself is especially important when making changes in your own lifestyle. When you change your behaviors out of love rather than shame, it is much easier to continue making healthy changes and feel good about yourself in the process. I believe that the first step towards becoming what you consider a better version of yourself in the future is being at peace with yourself in the present.
I recognize that the views expressed may seem contradictory and hypocritical given the story behind the name of my blog. That had to do with my own body and my aspiration towards a version of myself that the red bikini was symbolic of. I believe it is a personal choice that is about wearing what you feel best in.
There are countless articles, books and other forms of advice on how to improve yourself. They give you these set of rules on how to live your life to be what they consider a better person. They share their secrets to success in careers, health, relationships and more. They tell you to do this and do that. Some even tell you which people to allow into your life and which ones you should throw out like human garbage. But there is a bit of an undertone in this advice of “you aren’t good enough” or “you need to be fixed”. While like many people, I want to be the best version of myself… I’ve also come to realize the absurdity and self-absorption of it all (sometimes I forget). I think accepting some of these little so-called flaws and quirks are key to really being human.
So many aspects of our life revolve around judging. We judge others. Other people judge us. We adapt our behaviors and goals accordingly. We determine our self-worth and the worth of others based on our ability to adapt ourselves in alignment with those judgements. While judgements have a value, sometimes I think we are excessively influenced by them. What if we learned out of curiosity rather than because we feel obligated to get better grades? What if we chose our romantic relationships based on love rather than”practical” reasons? What if we didn’t give a shit about the conventional definition of success and did what we really wanted instead? I don’t think it would make society fall apart, I think it would make things more balanced.
If we keep looking at people through a lens of how they are “good/bad”, how can we expect to actually connect with them? How can we expect to have genuine relationships with people if we are constantly trying to assess if they are “good enough” and are constantly distracting ourselves in some way or another with those judgments? It is one thing to acknowledge the characteristics of a person and consider what that means, but I think in excess they can distract us from truly connecting with them. I think this may play a role in a deficiency of true compassion for both ourselves and others.
I think the only way we would be completely flawless in everyone’s eyes was if everybody didn’t give a shit about anything at all. Collective apathy doesn’t sound very appealing to me.
Flaws are beautiful. They are what make us human beings and not human fucking robot barbies.
I used to have a lot of resentment towards myself for having been overweight. I was mad at myself for letting myself go like that. I was ashamed. But as I have become further removed from being overweight, I have taken a new perspective on the experience and have become grateful for it.
I believe that good can be taken from any situation if you just find a new way to look at it. Rather than looking at a challenge you face as a problem, look at it as an opportunity for growth. See how you can take that challenge and create something good out of it. See how you can use it to find a new appreciation towards other aspects of your life. This is how I have become grateful for my experience with being overweight.
I don’t think it is likely that I would be as fit as I am today if I hadn’t first become so overweight. I wouldn’t have been uncomfortable with myself enough to take action. People usually don’t take action and change when they feel comfortable with where they are. This is why I think a little bit of discomfort and suffering is needed to become our best selves. I believe that wherever our greatest sources of fear and suffering are in life are also where our greatest potential for growth is.
I think having been overweight has made me appreciate my health more. It has made me love of my body more. I think it has made me enjoy food and all forms of physical pleasure more. I have learned to savor each and every bite of food I eat. Each meal is more satisfying to me. I appreciate indulging more because I do so less often and I do it with a more positive mindset.
I think my experience with being overweight has made me more confident with who I am today both internally and externally. Even though there are days where I look in the mirror and am not happy with how I look, for the most part I am. To be honest, I was kind of obsessed with mirrors when my weight loss first hit me. It was a version of myself I had never seen. I remember seeing my reflection in a window while walking down the street, and at first it didn’t even register that it was me. I think that was when I first really saw myself differently. I think seeing myself without realizing it made me able to see myself for what I really look like.
I think being overweight has made me appreciate clothes more. I actually enjoy shopping now. I like to wear things that I find flattering. I feel more comfortable playing with new patterns, colors and styles. I use clothes to highlight the parts of myself that I love rather than hide what I don’t like.
Learn to see challenges you face as obstacles to overcome rather than barriers preventing you from reaching your goal. Rather than focusing on your problems, focus on the solutions. By making this simple shift in your thinking, you will be able to become much more resilient and be able to appreciate even the difficulties you face in life.
Instead of looking at the mistakes you regret, appreciate and become grateful for the lessons you have learned from them.