With the arrival of hotter days and a lot of time spent in my own head due to my COVID-19 furlough I am reminded of those days when confidently wearing a swimsuit wasn’t always as easy.
I was born with a birth mark which covered almost 40% of my body. Not a real health issue just unusual red marks on my right side. For my family this was quite a concern but probably because I grew up with it, I also learned to live with it and to accept it as a part of me, as just the colour of my skin. I learned to be grateful for my imperfections because I’m not sure that without them even now, I would be able to differentiate my left from my right…
But just because you live happily with your own differences, doesn’t always mean you are ready to face the disapproving looks from others. I know a lot of my friends have managed to get a tan during the quarantine period because they felt safe in the knowledge that they were in the privacy of their own garden when wearing their bikini to sunbathe. In normal times however they would avoid crowded beaches like the plague because they felt way too self-conscious about their bodies. I guess everything is fine until you see what you think is a judgemental look from someone else. I grew up with so many stares from strangers. Teachers would tell me to go and wash my hands when I arrived on my first day of school, cashiers would question why my neck was so purple when all I wanted to do was buy groceries at my local supermarket. Even now, when I’m queuing somewhere, people often feel entitled to ask questions because their need to feed their curiosity overrides them taking the time to think about how their questions could make me feel. through the years I have had to learn to live with the looks and the questions that I get.
A part of me think the reason why people look at my red arms so much is because it’s unusual. But it’s not because you have something unusual that it will make you different. I’m still a person, and even if my appearance can disturb some people, it’s not my problem. And I won’t let anyone affect me because of it. And so should you.
The other day when I was scrolling through Facebook as I waited for my pain au chocolat to cook, I came across a video about Zoe Kravitz. How she feels her body image has been messed up because her dad was always dating super models. When she was a teenager he married Adriana Lima, who was considered at the time to be “the most beautiful woman” in the world, she goes on to say that she found it really difficult being around a woman whom she felt was everything she could never be. She went through a lot, she had very low self esteem and an eating disorder. She admits she hated her father growing up because of it. Can you imagine comparing yourself to a Victoria Secret model everyday? We already do it on our social media, but imagine that supermodel shares the same kitchen as you? Luckily, as she has grown up she has learnt to love her body.
There is no “normal”. There are way too many people in the world for only one type of normal to exist. I wonder who it was that decided to be happy in your life you need to be a size 6. Which for most people on this planet is completely unrealistic.
So it is time, to rise up and grow out of this trend. There is no beach body. To be ready to go to the beach all you need is your swimsuit and a pair of flip-flops… The sand can burn your feet sometimes you know. that’s all. Don’t let anyone else decide if you are beautiful, decide it for yourself. You don’t need the approval of anyone. We have all been hiding in our homes for nearly 10 weeks now, it’s time to stop. I mean as soon as Boris says you can, stay safe and all… But as soon as he does, please, wear those shorts, take yourself on a date to the beach, embrace your body.
The world needs you as you are. Not slimmer or Bigger or with longer legs or whatever. You don’t have anything to change. If you accept yourself the way you are, people will too.