There’s no time or place that our level of body confidence (and/or body shame) comes into play more than summertime at the beach.
There’s something about the intense heat and brilliant sunshine that makes us want to be wearing as little as possible. But when we actually get on the sandy beach in the bright light of day, many of us have a bit of challenge feeling confident as we drop the coverup.
Yet, every summer during our annual vacation week at the beach, I come away with the same observation.
No body is perfect.
Sitting in my beach chair, enjoying the peace and restorative properties of the beautiful ocean and salty breeze, I can’t help but notice the assortment of near-naked bodies that surround me.
It’s impossible not to notice the variety of human shapes and sizes that walk by during the few hours that I sit there.
At home, in preparation for our annual beach trip, I stand in front of my bedroom mirror trying on last year’s bathing suits. I look at myself and think, Oh God… I look terrible.
I harshly judge my pudges, my middle-aged skin tone, the freckles, the veins, the scars, the stretch marks and the occasional black and blue.
My assessment leaves me feeling discouraged. Even with regular workouts and generally healthy habits, I am more than unhappy with what I see.
Body confidence is a challenge for even the most fit amongst us.
I think…Why didn’t we choose a cruise to Alaska where I could stay completely covered instead of going to the beach again this summer?
Because we love the beach, the warm sunshine, soft sand and swimming together in the waves of the ocean. Like so many other families, we’ve created a quilt of memories experienced at the seashore each summer.
I grudgingly accept that I have to wear a bathing suit if I’m going to enjoy the beach, the ocean and water activities with my family.
And every year, that very first disrobing of my pasty white body on the beach amidst other tanned beachgoers is painful.
Even though I realize no one gives a hoot nor even notices that I’m taking off my cover up, it feels like I’m on a stage stripping for a huge audience who will surely be booing and throwing rotten tomatoes within minutes.
No matter how I evolve in my personal growth journey, this moment feels the same every single year.
Uncomfortable and awkward and full of self-consciousness and body shame.
But I do it anyway. And I imagine many of you do too.
Because we know that we couldn’t ever choose to sacrifice this full sensory memory-making time with our family by allowing modesty and self-doubt to win.
I’ve referred to midlife liberation before in my blog posts. And this is where it enters to save the (beach) day.
Because now, finally at fifty-five, under the well-worn ruts of self-doubt and self-consciousness, arises an awakening.
An awakening that life is short.
Many of us desire to live more fully. Experience more mindfully. Be in the moment. Feel more alive and present than we ever have before.
Immersing ourselves in experiences and making-memories with our family and friends trumps the self-consciousness of what our body looks like. Every. Single Time.
The desire to live mindfully and fully present in the moment, enjoying the beauty and precious times with our loved ones beats out the call to hide what we perceive as physical flaws of our bodies.
This year, in particular, after the initial bathing suit coverup drop, I quickly lost the desire to hide.
First of all, no one really gives a hoot what anyone else looks like. Most people are too wrapped up in concern over how they look.
Secondly, there are bodies of every possible shape, size and age on the beach. In an entire day, I’ve not seen one is that is perfect in the ways that our society would have us think is desirable.
Yet, every single one is perfect. Including me.
You read that correctly. My body is perfect… and so is yours… and his and hers and theirs!
“To me, beauty is about being comfortable in your own skin. It’s about knowing and accepting who you are.” – Ellen Degeneres
You think I’m losing it? You think I’ve been out in the sun for too long?!
Well then, it’s time for your induction to the awakening!
Let’s talk priorities and gratitude.
We are breathing. We are alive. We are mobile.
We are able to feel fresh air rush into our lungs. Able to sense the warmth of sunshine and the cool touch of ocean water on our skin.
In this amazing moment, the cellulite on my thighs could not possible be less significant! The stretch marks, scars, veins and pudges are purely ribbons on the gift that is my functioning body.
I am perfectly blessed to be enjoying this moment in My. Perfect. Body.
The body that allows me to do things that I love with the people I love. Including enjoy this week full of sunshine, sand, sea and memories with my family.
It doesn’t matter what we weigh, nor the size of our breasts nor the girth of our thighs. Nor our crooked toes, frizzy hair, or batwings.
It’s time to speak truth to ourselves. We are amazing beings wrapped up in different packages. We need to honor our bodies, not be ashamed of them.
It’s time for awakening from what may have held us back from fully enjoying before – years of trying to be more perfect.
I hope you’ll digest this encouragement and embrace an awakening as you may be gearing up for your own moment of summer coverup drop.
Cheers to the years and experiences we have behind us that have formed our perfect bodies.
Cheers to living more fully and to awakening your midlife body confidence!
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