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Admit it: we are all at least somewhat judgmental and because of that, many of us fear being judged.
It’s just the way the world works. We are humans. And if you’re like me, you let the fear inhibit your life in many ways.
For a good decade of my life, I refused to wear shorts because of my thick legs. I spent 5 years in southern Georgia – 18 months of that pregnant – sweltering in the heat in my jeans or capri pants. I simply wouldn’t wear anything shorter than calf-length because the world might come crumbling down around me if someone saw my chunky thighs.
I only went to the beach one time during our stint there – even though we only lived 30 minutes away from one – because I couldn’t bear to don a swimsuit. How dare I subject those in my vicinity to my fat body? No one deserves that kind of punishment, right?
Yet everyone around me wore whatever was comfortable. No one else let this fear paralyze them. I was so envious of that, but I couldn’t get there myself.
I lost 115 pounds and still felt like I had to hide my body. I finally was able to wear bermuda-length shorts, but nothing shorter than that. I remember it was Memorial Day weekend of 2011, and I wore a swimsuit for the first time in years. But instead of being able to just pick one out that I liked, I convinced myself that I had to wear a swim skirt to hide the loose skin on my thighs. Even though I hate swim skirts.
It wasn’t until we moved to Hawaii that things truly changed for me. I had just had my skin removal surgery, and that certainly played a role. But it was more about the people here. Between the tourists who are just busy trying to have a good vacation, and the residents who wear absolutely whatever they want, you can’t not fit in. No one cares what you look like. Not even a little bit.
So here I am, going out in a bikini for the first time in fourteen years with my scars blaring bright red, and no one bats an eye. Nobody cares, because I am not the sun. The world does not revolve around me.
I have gained 25 pounds since living here, and I’m still wearing bikinis, tank tops and mid-thigh-length shorts. I can see my cellulite in every picture, so I know everyone else is seeing it. You can see my flabby arms when I raise them. But I no longer dress myself based on those issues, because no one treats me differently based on the amount of scars or fat or cellulite they see. It’s not worth being uncomfortable and sweating profusely because I want to stay completely covered up.
I can’t say something that will make you overcome this problem, just as there was nothing someone else could say to me during all those years. But what I would like for you to do is just try it once. Think of it as an adventure. See what happens if you wear shorts, or a skirt, or a one-piece, or a bikini, or whatever it is that scares you. Go somewhere far away from everyone you know, and see what happens. No one is going to care; I can almost promise you that. And if someone really does care, they have too much time on their hands. And they’ll forget in 10 seconds, just like you do when you make a snap judgment about someone. We just all have our own lives going on and how someone else dresses is simply a blip on our radar screen.
This was one of the most important and freeing lessons I’ve learned in my journey. I now wear what makes me feel beautiful, and I own it. And some days I feel better in a certain outfit than other days. But I notice that the more I own my outfit, the more confidence I exude, and the more compliments I receive. It’s not that I don’t still want to change things about my body, because I do. But I’m not going to cover myself up during the process. And you shouldn’t either.