[Content disclosure: This post was sponsored by Target to promote positive body image]
If you would’ve told me a few months ago that I would be stripping down into a bikini in the middle of January, I would’ve laughed in your face and hopefully not have gotten chocolate chip cookie crumbs on your shirt.
The post holiday cellulite, love handles, and any blubber that I could grip onto would whisper in my ear, “girl, you need to work me out or you’ll have to go to the beach with a wetsuit all year round.” I’m not a size 0, as a matter of fact, I’m barely a size 1-10.
I’m a curvy Brazilian woman with curly hair, big thighs that could probably bench press more than a grown man’s weight, and I have flabby arms. I’m also a weirdo who listens to oldies music, who loves watching people surf, I play the ukulele on good days, and I’m a lover of travel. I’m way more than what you’d be able to infer from looking at my physical body, but yet I used to fall into the trap of letting insecurities about my appearance dictate what’s on the inside; my happiness.
Months pass, body parts change, and self doubt starts to grow, but the good news is, it’s most likely all in your head.
Back when I used to care what people thought:
Around ages 12-18 I had a bad case of caring what other people thought. I wouldn’t want to go to school unless my hair was frizz free, and always opted for the oversized sweater look to cover bumps and lumps underneath. I hated wearing shirts that I knew gave me pit stains and would never, ever go to pool parties. By the time I got to high school, I kept myself busy with clubs and languages, and stopped trying to fit in with the pool party kind of kids. It was a good move, I was able to focus on working hard and spent less energy trying to fit in.
College rolled around, and NYC was too crowded to ever worry about stripping down into a bathing suit. Unless you were rich and could afford going to the Hamptons for the summer, you wouldn’t find yourself near a swimmable body of water. Just because Manhattan is on an island does not mean beach-side fun is on the itinerary. Living in NYC bought me an additional five years of having my weight worries lurk in the back burner of my brain.
Traveling and bikinis:
Then I started traveling all over the place, including to beach side destinations. It was basically a no-no in my book to sport a two piece. I thought, who would be ok with seeing my thunder thighs dominate their serene beaches? To avoid the feeling of everyone staring at my jiggles, I bought a heavenly one-piece and stuck to it for all of our international travels. What started out as a bathing suit for conservative Egyptian beaches, turned into my go-to swimsuit to cover up my own conservative feelings towards exposing my body in a bikini. I became a lover of the one piece, but knew deep down that I was keeping myself from fully embracing my curves.
The jiggle journey continues:
After moving to Los Angeles, land of the skinny, glowing people who all look like they belong on the cover of a health magazine, I learned that gym memberships are almost just as important as signing your apartment’s lease. I also realized that it’s not so bad being health conscious in LA LA land. It wasn’t until I left toxic NYC that I was able to think about what went into my body, and started actively caring about my health with workouts, stretching, and eating more than just a few pieces of broccoli a week.
But this story doesn’t quite end with a happily ever after. After a few months, things threw me off balance, like random last minute travels that took me away from the gym, family visiting which led to several trips to burger joints and taco stands, and a few homesick nights that included binging on Netflix while eating way too many slices of bread with Nutella. Needless to say, my “I’m on a low carb, workout kick” lasted for about four weeks, followed by a month long dry spell of almost no workouts or power smoothies. Can we all agree that it’s FREAKIN’ HARD to stay disciplined with a Beyoncé regime while life is happening?
One of these “back on” times with my on again, off again relationship with health trends, I woke up and realized, it’s not about getting rid of a little chub, it’s about feeling good at that moment in time. I realized that even at the peak of my workout craze, I would never feel as though I had a perfect body, there would always be something that could be tighter or leaner. Then I looked back at pictures of when I was 14, 15, 16 and thought “wow, I would complain about being “chunky” and looked like a freaking super model.”
I got real with myself and stopped the ugly habit of feeling insecure:
During one of my regular Target runs, I walked into the entrance and saw endless options of bathing suits in every color, size, and style. I walked right past thinking, “the last thing I want to do right now is try on bikinis,” and as I continued walking, my mind basically moved my legs back to the swim section and I found myself grabbing any two piece that might fit my curves. Then it became a challenge and I got excited about conquering this track record of insecurities, I wanted to prove to myself that I wouldn’t let body image fears keep me from feeling the sun on my skin any longer. Worst case scenario, I could return the swimsuits for free, why not give it a shot? I decided to commit and picked three bikinis that each challenged things I’ve been self conscious about: wearing white, wearing a neon color, and wearing boy shorts that might give me muffin top and squeeze my thighs. I was pleased to find that with the mix and match option, I got the perfect sizes with each piece that kept things from spilling out in unflattering ways.
Summer fun: 1, fear of flubber: 0
Waving the surrender flag in a white bikini:
I started by doing something I’ve never done before; I picked a white bathing suit. I have to admit, I cringed a little before heading to the dressing room to try this bad boy on, but I also knew that if I was gonna get myself out of the comfort zone, I’d have to go big, (hopefully not too big). The string sides on the bottom were perfectly adjustable, so there was no possibility of a muffin top situation. I even felt daring enough to play volleyball and legit let things bounce and jiggle the way they naturally do.
Getting my ne – on:
Then there was this two piece that would’ve scared me away instantly with its bold color. I have to admit, I fell in love within the first 10 minutes of strutting on the beach because I had no choice but to own everything about myself in this suit. I even felt daring enough to climb on the life guard tower that clearly said “Keep Off,” do we see the confidence kicking in?
Boogying in my boy shorts:
The last suit was specifically for those active boogie boarding days. Keyword: boy shorts that could’ve been a hit or miss. Luckily, getting a size bigger meant they fit perfectly. The trick with bikini shopping is refraining from cheating yourself, keep it real. If you’re a large, boo boo you better embrace your large. I know I do, and my Brazilian lower half thanks me for it.
I have to say, I was prancing around shamelessly for about an hour and a half while Damon snapped pics of my confidence session. Of course, things aren’t perfect, but who’s defining perfect anyways? And who said perfection creates happiness? Bottom line is that a little chub never hurt anyone, so don’t hurt yourself over it.
Shut up and go let it all hang out, and stop missing out. No #FOMO up in here, find your style @targetstyle, who’s in?
Special thanks to Target for being our go-to store for basically everything.