Baywatch Belly

So the show has just closed Off Broadway with an incredible run. I just wanted to thank everyone who came out and supported as well as to those who have watched The Body Image Project Video on YouTube. If you haven’t seen it, take a look- it’s twenty minutes: http://youtu.be/cKUGpyBmFjA

So there are 45 days left till my wedding extravaganza  I am absolutely hyped. My husband to be arrives in July and I cannot wait to see him! Of course the wedding dress and all of that is exciting. But, what I am most hyped about/nervous is what am I going to wear on this honeymoon!! What kind of swimsuits am I going to carry on the trip? We decided to go to New Orleans for the honeymoon, because the food/music/ambiance is hypnotic. But, here’s the deal- I have had a fear of wearing swimsuits in public for years- specifically bikinis.

Now, I know a lot of you are going to find this strange, because I wear a swimsuit in the play. But, I have never in my life worn a bikini. Why? Because, I have always felt like my stomach is so dramatic all the time. It’s HUGE. It takes up everything. I would probably be able to wear a size 14, but my stomach decided differently. I fear that people would make fun of me if I wear a bikini.  It always seems, via the media, like people with six pack abs are the only ones who should be in skin displaying garments. IT’S NOT FAIR!! I want to wear a bikini on my honeymoon!!

Everyone in the gym I go to is obsessed about getting swimsuit ready. They have a “hotbod” bikini ab workout at the gym. There is another one called “Summer Cardio.” My favorite one is “Abs of Steel” a gym class that prepares you for sexy abs in 6 weeks. All of my male friends have been wiling out in the gym trying to get chiselled abs and my female friends are right behind them. With the whirlwind obsession with garnering steel abs and bikini bods I stay pedalling on an Elliptical watching episodes of Scandal. 

I didn’t realize how bad my fear of bikini’s were until I went into an Old Navy about 3 weeks ago. I was alone and on a covert mission. I wore all black and had sunglasses on. All black hoodie, black sweats and a black beret.  I honestly looked like something out of mission impossible. I walked shadily into the bikini section and waited until I was by myself and then quickly tried to find all of the Large sizes. I was stressed, because it took me a minute to find the size “L” in a bikini and I could feel the beads of nervous sweat pouring onto the ground like a waterfall. The worst part was not selecting what large bikini I wanted- now I had to wait in line to try the clothes on!

After a twenty minute wait in line. I finally got to the dressing room, stripped off and put the swimsuit on. I turned around, looked in the mirror and almost passed out. I immediately began pin pointing every bit of stretch mark, cellulite, insect scars and dark spot on my body. I turned around and saw my Chee-Cho’s (back rolls) and quickly took the swimsuit off and changed back into my all blacks.

What am I hiding? Yesterday I went into a restaurant in the city. One of my friend’s, who is a beautiful “plus size” girl, is on her way to Dominican Republic for the week. She told me she was having trouble swimsuit shopping and I asked why? She said: “Because, they don’t carry thong bikini’s in my size!”

Pause. What? THONG BIKINI? She loves her body through and through. She feels like she can wear whatever she wants on the beach, because she believes her body is gorgeous. So my whole thing is- if my friend and I are the same size why can’t I just have the confidence to wear any swimsuit of my choice?

Am I afraid of people judging me? Am I afraid of me judging me? I think it has to do with my mom and grandmother’s influence. I grew up in a household full of diet and exercise. My mom, bless her heart, is the queen of undergarments  She would give the Spanx creators a run for their money. She would find any elastic, or stretchy material, or rope- to tie her belly up so that her dresses would look smoother. I hate spanx. They are too tight and I can’t breath. So when I wear a dress with regular underwear, my mom looks at me cross eyed, because I should be wearing a bungie cord around my waist instead. But, i just can’t.

My grandma is a no nonsense Jamaican woman and she never minces words. Older generations do not care. They will say anything and everything. It is so funny to me, because when did our generation become so sensitive?

My grandmother a few years ago had a major stroke that took her speech and major movement from her. A couple years ago I went to visit her in the nursing home and I had put on a few pounds. She examined me for 15 minutes and then slowly placed her hand on my stomach and hips. I was laughing- because I remember when I was little she used to do the same thing to notify me when it was time to lose weight. I always knew when it was time to go on a detox, diet, or juice cleanse when I got a shady belly tap from my grandma.

Why are people afraid of bellies!? Everyone has one! Big, small, oval, flat, boney whatever we all have one. I think in the media if we saw more images of people with thicker thighs and bigger belly’s this world would be a different place. Am I afraid people won’t accept me, because I don’t have a bikini ready belly?  Imagine if the women on Baywatch had bellies it would be a completely different show. Don’t get me wrong I like chiselled abs. I would like to have them one day if God permits that. I love Usher and in the Trading Places video I think he looks great. But, I just want there to me more images of people that resemble my body type.

In The Body Image Project play I portray two women that speak about swimsuits. One is a pageant contestant who loves the swimsuit portion of the competitions, because it is a chance for her to show the audience her body and how hard she has worked. They other woman is a burn survivor who carries most of scars on her thigh so she is uncomfortable showing her body off because she is embarrassed and fearful of criticism.

At what point do we just throw on the bathing suit and say who cares? So today I went to Macy’s with a close friend, who has just lost 40 pounds. She looks absolutely stunning- she always has, but she feels like her body isn’t in a place to wear a bikini. It upset me, because if I were her size I would wear everything! I would have my back out, i would wear neon colored booty shorts, I would wear everything. Reasons why God made me big, because I would be a skinny fool. But, I digress. She told me her parents thought that her body wasn’t at the place to wear bikinis just yet.

So we did a bikini challenge and put on a bunch of bikini’s and took pictures that I will post at the bottom of this blog. I just want to let you know how terrified I was to take these pictures, because I was scared of the “world” criticizing me. But, the thing is I could care less. If I die tomorrow and don’t try on a proper bikini, because of what people say- that is not a life lived. I want to go to Coney Island and walk around in the sand with my midriff out. I want that for myself. I want to be happy with it. But, the only way I can do that is face my fear head on.

Body Image complexes come from the mind and by what other’s have said to us that may prove damaging. If we do not change our mindset, our bodies will forever be prisoners. How many things have you told yourself you could not do because of fear? Really think about that. How many opportunities have you lost out on? As I get older, and people that I love and adore begin to pass away around me, I realize more and more life is extremely short. I have to do what makes me happy. I have to finally live my life without caring what others say.How do I do this? First step: putting on the damn bikini!

I don’t have a six pack I probably never will. Who cares? People, I am finding out, with six packs have things they are insecure about to! Just because you are small doesn’t mean you don’t have insecurities. Doesn’t make life easier. We are all human. Who cares what your belly, back or legs look like; put on the damn swimsuit and be proud in it.

It’s summer time! Enjoy it and live live live like it is your last. What complexes do you have about your body? How can you proactively begin to change your mindset? Would love to hear your thoughts?

All the best blessings,

D

actor.playwright.director

As Promised:

Image

14 Comments

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  1. I would first like to say you look great girl! This blog was really fun to read because i too went swim suite shopping a month ago and nearly cried in the fitting room. Everything I tried on just showed off my big stomach and thighs. I grew up always being in shape and have a pretty ok body. I never had to worry about fitting into clothes or what people would think of my body. That was a very humbling day for me. I just said fuck it, I wont be going to the beach this summer. But your right why should I be ashamed of how I look, I know I want to look better but this is what I’m working with now and I shouldn’t be scared to show my “gut”. My confidence should come from within not based off of how I look that day.

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  2. Danielle,
    You look so cute and adorable. You deserve to wear whatever your heart desires-on your honeymoon and everyday. Face your fears! We all have them and the more we start to stare them down and show them who’s boss the more we can start living our joy!

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  3. Danielle,

    You. Are. So. Beautiful. Really. I’m so proud and humbled by your openness. If we all had the strength to openly discuss our insecurities with such courage, who knows what would happen. I am so inspired by you and your fearlessness. Thank you for sharing your journey – you have no idea what it means to me.

    On another note, I am glad to support any movement that gets people away from the 6-pack ab thing. It’s not attainable for most people and we don’t need to feel bad about it. Men or women

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  4. So, I love this post! And I love the picture as well. WORK IT! You look amazing and I know your husband will fall deeper in love with you if you wear that smile along with that bathing suit! 🙂

    So, about this post… I really appreciated being able to see your views on this topic for sure. And I wish women would be able to support other women in boosting confidence regardless of how thick or thin they are. I believe there is beauty in all sizes but I too have had some insecurity issues. I’m never very insecure about bikinis too much because I was blessed with a fairly thin waist that I love. But when there’s a 19 inch difference between your waist and your hips/butt, things get scary. :-/ I always get attention based on my butt and it can be annoying. But what really bothers me are my thighs. I get so nervous that people will see cellulite or turn their noses up at me. I recently asked a number of male friends their opinions of girls with cellulite wearing shorts and they all had the same opinion “Who cares? Those things don’t matter to us like they matter to you”. That convinced me that maybe I could wear shorts and not have to worry. So I do.

    I still sometimes look in the mirror and second guess what I’m wearing, but in the end, I just wear whatever I feel good wearing that day. 🙂

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  5. A great read, and you are so right, we all have our complex insecurities, I don’t often comment on blogs but felt I had something to add, which is that I hate wearing bikinis but being a skinny size 8/10 I feel pressure to wear one. I want really plain boring black swimsuits like you get in school and just play in the water but when I put one on I feel awkward and stupid, I always envy people who can wear things that cover them up and still look relaxed and confident!

    Its amazing how people can be so confident in some things and insecure in others and I love your last point, we shouldn’t judge just because we think that person looks like our version of beautiful!

    Another thing is that we’ll never know what we look like, I look at other people and think which ones of those shape categories do I fall into? what do people see when they look at me? and all I’ve ever worked out is that I will never know.

    Im almost rambling into something long enough to be a blog post back which is probably why I never write comments!

    thank you for posting about the topic with a fresh and kind view
    xx

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    • bodyimageprojectblog June 25, 2013 — 1:08 am

      thank you so much for this AMAZING RESPONSE. We never do know what we look like. I completely agree with this statement. Thank you for reading this blog it truly means a lot : )
      D

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  6. Love this! Ahh, you are a constant inspiration. I want to go swimsuit shopping now :). You might enjoy this too: http://interruptmag.com/?p=891

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  7. You look great in the above picture!!

    I’ve very rarely worn a bikini, and when I do I’m covered in some way or another: mostly body shy, however body-shy is definitely a great top up on sun factor!!! HA! I’ve always had the muffin top – that part above the bikini line which has a mind of its own, especially when sitting or being active!! Actually the only time I’m comfortable in a bikini is when I’m lying down and my belly splodges across, gravity takes over, and I give myself the impression there’s no extra luggage being carried!!
    It’s odd though, the older I get and the more situations I’ve thrown myself in where I have to wear little attire the shorter time frame it takes me to realise “why should I care?”. The only annoying thing about having the embarrassment in your own skin, and no matter how many times people tell you you’re fine or you convince yourself you’re great, there’s a niggling in you head that gives you enough doubt, a doubt that inhibits you. I think everyone has this no matter what size they are, the challenge, is to fight against this and seize the enjoyment that comes with bullying away wicked thoughts OR allow this thought to over-ride and dampen the enjoyment in whatever activities you end up doing – even if it is just lying down on the beach!!!!

    #bikinibody #onlylookatmelyingdown #olderiamthelessicare #bodyimage

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  8. Hey Danielle,

    So I had to read this twice, just to absorb all of the insightful and important wisdom you shared. As someone who is overweight, this was truly inspiring. I always head right for the one-piece bathing suit or even no bathing suit at all–I’ll just avoid the pool in general. But I truly think that the media engrains this terrible idea of what beauty is–that it means you should be a size 2 and no bigger or ELSE. But you’re right, EVERYONE has a belly. Why be ashamed of how you are built and what you look like? Furthermore, we place way too much importance on how we look. Why is fat ugly? As you stated in your blog, you play two women in your production who have to wear a bathing suit. Whether you have burns, a “perfect” body, a little extra fat, or you’re considered “obese”, you are beautiful and deserve to feel good about yourself, ESPECIALLY in a bathing suit. Let the world know your beauty!!

    Thank you again for this beautiful post, Danielle.

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  9. Looking great in the bikini

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  10. That is such a stunning swimsuit, thank you so much for posting this! I know what it’s like to be terrified of a swimsuit. I went on birth control a little less than a year ago and I have gained 20-some odd pounds, but even before that I hated my body in a bikini because I was afraid of my own judgement and being the “fat friend” (both of my friends use to struggle with eating disorders so they are quite slender). Last year I felt okay showing it off but this year I have too many tummy stretch marks!

    Thank you for being so courageous and wearing that lovely swimsuit! I know your husband will adore it! Thank you for your post!

    -Nicky

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  11. I read a lovely quote the other day that stated “how to get a bikini body? Simple. Put a bikini on a body” it’s cute, it’s funny but it’s so true. The statement bikini body is probably what makes is think there is only a certain body that is valid of wearing a bikini. I have lost about 30 pounds in the past 3 years but what shocks me is that I am probably more insecure now than I was then. Don’t get me wrong, I am so proud of mysel and I feel great but it’s also because I know everyone around me thinks I look great! I’ve had a weird feeling towards people tellin me (since I’ve come back home) how great I look and how amazing I look. Why? Isn’t that what I wanted? Yes I am glad that I look great now but what were they thinking before? Because yes I was chunky but I never thought I looked awful. Yes I was chunky but not once did I think I wasn’t beautiful. But the statement “wow you look so good now” seems to hurt me 3 years ago. Because that person was a person with the same dreams, the same hopes and te same tenacity I do have now just 30 pounds more cushion. ANYWAY I’ve been thinking a lot about body image too FUNNY enough I was going to do a one-woman show about one 3 years ago, hence all the books I found and that one “this is who I am” . I am starting to believe that maybe that book belongs to you. I will send it with Stefanée when she goes home and comes for your wedding! I hope it inspires a lot.

    Much admiration and inspiration,
    Kemi

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    • bodyimageprojectblog June 24, 2013 — 5:25 am

      Thank you so much for your comment. I am so glad you wrote this, because I know exactly what you mean! “Wow you look so good now” A bunch of people have been saying this since I have been home. Which made me feel great at first, but then I realized I should be feeling good even if someone were to tell me I looked a hot mess!

      I just also wanted to say congratulations on your weight loss, because losing weight is really hard work. It is a commitment you make with your body. It is a discipline you learn. It is rewarding.

      Thank you for the book in advance and I hope to meet you someday.

      All the best blessings,
      D

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