My closest friends (and now all who read this) know that I have battled with Body Image problems my entire life. The reason is simple—I’ve battled with my weight my entire life. I’ve also generally speaking been close friends with really attractive people…as in those who on the scale of 1 – 10 tend to rate 8 – 15. I’m not sure why this is, but the result of it has frequently been to feel not so great about my appearance in comparison to theirs. Understand, this has never been because my friends said anything negative. If anything they tend to compliment me and I tend not to believe it (although I’m getting better).
Needless to say, I became not so fond of bathing-suit related activities a number of years ago. Between my insecurities of how I look and my fear of not being able to breathe (another story for the future) beaches and pools were not tops of my group activity To Dos. The ironic part there is that the beach is my destination of choice…just not while OTHER people are there. My friends would often want to do such activities and I would come up with all kinds of reasons not to. Excuses really.
Until about four years ago. Four years ago, my brother and his wife bought a vacation home about an hour and forty-five minutes outside of DC. He debated long and hard before buying this home, and he I and talked about the pros and cons in great detail—this was again in the time before The Great Incident with my brothers that led to non-communication, and yes, I am aware that I really need to get around to that story…in due time. Anyhoo, he really wanted a place where we could all go and be away from the city, but without the hassles and distance of a true vacation. A mini-escape. The house is located near the beach and best of all has a private pool. I was intrigued for a variety of reasons, but told him that a) being a non-swimmer I had an issue with water/the lack of air in it and b) I hadn’t been in a swimsuit in more than a decade. He told me if he bought the house, I had to buy a swimsuit. He did and I did.
The first time I suited up and went to get in the pool was as pleasant as possible. The only people there were me and my brother. The first 10 or so times I suited up there was no one there but immediate family. I began to relax, and more importantly have fun. I still hadn’t reached the point where I’d go swimming (or splashing as was still the case with me) when there were “strangers” but I was getting there.
Since The Great Incident, I have found a new private pool, thanks to a VERY kind neighbor on my block. I have truly come to enjoy my daily trips with my boys, and the issue of “strangers” hasn’t been an issue…until today. I had promised the boys we’d go today, and made arrangements with Dad (not being a strong swimmer still, we always have him with us). I realized as we were on our way out the door and across the alley that another neighbor—a close friend of the family—was there with his wife and kids. Not a big deal, I’m used to them. But as I walked through the gate, I discovered there were also about five “strangers”. Relatives of theirs.
Inside I froze. Outside I put on my best Parker face and greeted everyone warmly. I wanted to run. But I couldn’t. My youngest was already telling me about the dive he wanted me to watch…but I had to be IN the pool to watch him correctly. Bottom line? I had no choice. Body Image be damned, my baby wanted me to watch him and I was going to. Cover up off, and in I went. My resolve was tested by the fact there were people sitting on the steps and little ones everywhere, so there could be no quick slipping into the pool. But I did it.
Not only did I do it, but apparently I did it well. As we were coming home, my father commented on it. He knows me VERY well, and knows how much I struggle with this issue. He was proud of me. That pride actually is what motivated this posting. It made me think about how far I’ve come in this journey of me. Prior to all that happened what seems like an eternity ago, I never would have pushed myself like this, and quite frankly I missed out on a lot. Now, it seems silly NOT to challenge myself.
No, I am not a small girl (or to quote my dear Slumber Parties distributor—a skinny bitch), and even if I lose all the weight I want to, I will never be tiny. We Parker women just aren’t crafted that way…we have hips MADE for birthing babies, shoulders DESIGNED for leaning on, arms SCULPTED for bear hugs, and chests…well, you figure that one out.
The point is that my body is what it is, and I need to love it no matter what. It changes all the time, and that’s okay too. I realize that other people don’t ever put nearly as much focus on our outward appearance as we do. So instead of constantly wallowing in all of our self-defined imperfections, we really need to just look at ourselves through the eyes of those who know and love us. It’s amazing how beautiful we are when we do.