6. Wear a bathing suit in public...

I, like almost every woman (who is honest), have a part of my body that I wish were different. I actually have multiple parts of my body that I wish were different, but one that stands out above the rest. It's my thighs. For two reasons. The obvious; you know how people talk about eating something that goes straight to their thighs? I think it actually goes to MY thighs. I have big thighs. I always have. Even when I was 130 pounds I had big thighs. So naturally, being... not 130 pounds any longer, my thighs are bigger.

Perhaps less obvious; I am quite possibly the palest person in the world. I have less than no pigment. I have always been made fun of for this, and I remember literally every single remark that has been made about it. Hundreds of them, coming from children, adults, friends, acquaintances, and perfect strangers. Things like, "Have you ever seen the sun?" and "you are the color of paper" I even had one friend tell me that I shouldn't wear white at my wedding because "the groom wouldn't be able to find you." I know you're probably laughing, and I would be laughing on the outside too having always been comfortable being the butt of a good joke, but what I would be thinking on the inside is... "this makes me ugly." Because of it, I swore off wearing shorts in my late teens, and would probably feel more comfortable if I were covered head to toe constantly. I am most self conscious about my pigment.

These two things combined create the perfect storm. Especially around bathing suits. I always cringe when I get a fashion magazine with the headline, "The Perfect Bathing Suit for Any Figure." Yeah, right. There isn't a bathing suit in the world that covers up the thighs (and please don't tell me about the skirts. I have bad news for bathing suit skirt wearers, the skirts do nothing but draw attention to the thighs. It's true.) and I am positive that no bathing suit could make someone as pale as I am look... not pale. So, the groundwork has been laid, the bathing suit and I do not have a good relationship.

(I need to take a deep breath here, because I had not anticipated that the writing of this event would turn out to be more of a stretch than the event itself.)

When my first child was born, my baby girl Brady (named for my maiden surname) who lived only 3 1/2 short months and died of SIDS suddenly and unexpectedly, I had a life changing experience upon holding her for the first time. My second thought (because honestly, my first thought was, "OH MY GOODNESS, she looks like my father-in-law) was that she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my entire life. I could not believe that Matt and I had put her together so perfectly. This took me so by surprise. Of course, a mother thinks her baby is the most perfectly beautiful thing, that is nature. I think what was striking me in that moment was the realization that she was a reflection of me in so many ways. I realized that in order for me to see this unique and amazing beauty in her, I would have to acknowledge the unique and amazing beauty in myself. This was big. Right then and there, I decided that it was about time for me to get around to figuring out how to love these parts of myself that I had spent a lot of time and energy hating. This propelled me down a path that has put me where I am right now, trying to make amends with the size and color of my thighs, and honor the beauty in me. Yes, I said it, the beauty. in. me.

I am lucky enough to have a husband who has told me in so many words, that he would think I was sexy if I were 900 pounds and had to wear a bedsheet. While it is tempting sometimes to eat enough to challenge this assertation, I will not. However, knowing this comes in handy in times like these where I feel anything but sexy. I envy and admire women who feel their sexiest in a bathing suit. That takes some confidence that I don't have right now. The goal this time around is not even to do it and feel sexy, the goal is to do it. So, it has to be done.

I have two bathing suits. One that I bought a year ago in preparation for a family cruise (which I never wore), and a maternity suit that I bought when I was pregnant with our third child that we lost during pregnancy this past November (also never worn). This goal is one that I have held for just over a year, and clearly I have had the intention to do it whatever shape I was in. I grabbed the one I bought for the family cruise last year and shoved it in the suitcase while we were packing for an overnight at a local hotel with our son. I am realizing with these challenges, that an element of getting through them is not spending time thinking about them in the hours and minutes up to their happening. If I do, I am afraid I'll talk myself out of it, or put it off for a later time, a time that may not come. So, we literally drove to the hotel, checked into the room, and headed directly down to the pool.

Well, not exactly directly to the pool. I have something to admit: I have a habit of forgetting to shave my legs. Not forgetting a day or a week here and there. I forget for months. Sometimes seasons. Hey, I don't wear shorts or bathing suits, and it's cold out there. I'd like to take another moment to thank my husband for thinking I'm sexy anyway. In the car on the way to the hotel, I had noticed the growth, and cursed aloud the fact that I hadn't packed a razor (quick plug for my favorite product: the Schick Intuition Plus which has the moisturizing cream built into the razor. AWESOME.) Luckily the front desk was able to supply me with the proper instrument (although not my Schick Intuition Plus) to sufficiently butcher my tender white legs so as not to further embarrass myself.

Once at the pool I had a revelation. You see, I am not, nor have I ever been (for obvious reasons) the type who could "lay out" by the pool or on a beach. It is pointless for me. I come in two colors, paper white or burned red. So, if I am to put on a bathing suit, it is for the function of swimming. My white and enormous thighs would only be exposed from the moment I dropped the towel until I immersed myself in the water. What was the big deal again? I relaxed and had fun tossing my son around in the water. He is a two-year-old and I had never gone swimming with him because of my own issues. As he was giggling and gripping my neck with his slippery arms I realized that he didn't care about my thighs, he cared about the safety and security I offer him both in and out of the water. He loves me no matter what. I cannot ask for much more in life than to be loved so purely and unconditionally. That said, I was thankful that nobody I knew was there, because it may have muddled that revelation. For now, I may need to just be satisfied with the accomplishment of doing this alone with my family and perfect strangers present. I think that's enough, because this lesson brought me back to where I started. I am uniquely beautiful. Each one of us is uniquely beautiful.

Next week, I'm unplugging. No internet or television for 5 days.


  1. whoa whoa whoa...
    First - Good for you.
    Second - no internet? Seriously? Does this count cell phone internet stuff? You'll have to buy that crinkly stuff they print the news on to know what happened in the world yesterday.
    At least let us all know when you're going to be back so we don't send out search 'n rescue.

  2. 1. I love you.
    2. Since I am a terrible writer, I thank you for saying how I feel!
    3. Let's have a pale-off.
    4. I still think it's weird that my husband requested your FB friendship.
    5. Will blogspot let me post anonymously?

  3. Keep up the good blogging, Colleen. Very real, very well written! If we all had the strength to get over what makes us individually self-conscious. Not that I'm ruling out being conscious, mind you. Some could use more of that!


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