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,