Summer & bodies; not “summer bodies”. 

Summer. It’s my favourite season of the year. There’s something about the constant hum of cicadas clicking, saltwater in your hair, and the thick layers of sunblock to protect against the ozone hole. Here in New Zealand, summer means Christmas, a beautiful phenomenon that seems just as magical as a snowy Christmas. The majority of us grow up swimming in the sea, as our islands are long and thin, making the coastlines generally easily accessible.

Summer as children was carefree and wild. You throw on your togs without a second thought, and head straight for the sand and ocean. But once we grow up, and our insecurities and fears grow up alongside us, summer isn’t as simple as it once was. Although we still love the beach and frockling in the sea, we become clouded by fear.

I can’t remember the last time I wore togs to go swimming. I am usually far too conscious and ashamed of my body to be seen in less that shorts and a tank top. Even then, I feel so ashamed and disgusted with myself.

Silhouette Photography of People Swimming on the Beach during Golden Hour

However, this is changing. Therapy and recovery has given me the courage and confidence to tackle this head on. I am now determined that my insecurities about my body cannot stop me from living life anymore. I cannot keep putting life off until I feel completely safe in my own skin. Because I will only feel confident through faking it till I make it.

I am afraid of wearing togs because I believe my body is too big or too fat or too flawed. However, I am learning that these thoughts are distortions, and that they do not serve me. As my husband and I were discussing when we were leaving the beach yesterday, when I was in the depths of the eating disorder and very sick, by my standards I was far closer to a body that was deemed “good enough”. However, in retrospect that body looked terrible; frail and poorly. That body didn’t have the time or energy for anything beyond the eating disorder, let alone swimming, and wouldn’t have been able to cope with the ocean’s drop in temperature anyway. At the time, I was still absolutely convinced I was grossly huge and unworthy, and couldn’t see reality.

Orange and White Koi Fish Near Yellow Koi Fish

Therefore, we are working on the facts to tackle these distortions. My body is now a healthy one. I see it differently to how it actually is. I am allowed and good enough to wear togs to go swimming. I deserve to have self confidence to build myself up, rather than tear everything down.

As mentioned, we were at the beach yesterday, and the day was truly magical. We went for a friend’s birthday, and we played soccer, danced, and waded in the cool water. It was an incredible day, with some of the most beautiful people I know. And guess what? They also happen to be a group of body confident, beautiful souls, whose hard work on creating a positive body image is rubbing off on those around them.

As we waded into the water, I admired their absolutely gorgeous and stunning bodies. I admired the differences between us all. I admired how this made humans interesting and beautiful. Most of all, I admired that they could just do that; that they could do something as simple as wearing togs. This is because as women, it is drilled into us from every angle, that to be good enough, our bodies must be perfect. It sounds stupid writing it out, and in fact it is. That to wear togs at the beach, your body must be perfect. And the reality is, nobody’s is. The perfect beach body doesn’t exist. This is what I loved and admired most about them in this moment. That they were far too full, of confidence and love, regardless of it’s faked till it’s made or not, to be held back by something as petty and ridiculous as an impossible beauty standard.

Recovery is healing me. The beautiful, wise people around me, and their confidence, is healing me. I will no longer be held back by something destructive, limiting, and ultimately false. One of my goals for this summer is to wear a bikini at the beach. I can do it.

(The images of animals in this piece are inspired by If you check out their blog, Remington and Margot are two Golden Retrievers who love the beach, and also who obviously don’t care what their fur looks like or how their tails wag in the process. Let’s take a leaf out of Remington and Margot’s book, let’s enjoy summer and the beach for the fun and magic that it is, and celebrate our bodies for enabling us to enjoy it.)


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