Traveling is the University of Life, they say. You open yourself up to new experiences, new languages, cultures, sights, sounds and even tastes. However, I did not expect to be schooled in body confidence. I learned a valuable lesson while I was in Greece, and I have to share it with you.
I am trying to be kinder to myself, to love my new mom-body I have that is now stretched and wobbly, but also grew the most wonderful little human. Originally I was so down about having to be in a swimsuit, because I just felt so self-conscious.
On our very first day of holiday, I took my lily white body and shoved it into a full piece costume hoping to hide some of the lumps, bumps and stretch marks. I then covered my cellulite with a pretty sarong. I hid under a giant hat and large sunglasses, and covered whatever was left sticking out in SPF50.
We arrived at the beautiful Greek beach with it’s warm, turquoise ocean and I discovered quite quickly that I was the only woman in a full piece costume and sarong. There were girls and women in every shape and size imaginable in tiny bikinis, no cover ups in sight, and big smiles on their faces. I noticed their smiles first, and not a dimple or roll. Their smiles and big laughs showed an inner confidence that made them look beautiful. They oozed sexiness and it was an eye-opener.
After a good pep talk from my husband and a long, hard think, I decided this: I’m not shying away because I don’t look a certain way society says I should look (who decided that anyway?) and I am certainly not shying away from having a good time with my baby boy and my family. I’m going to have fun on the beach, wobbly bits and all and make happy memories. I didn’t want to regret not having photos with my family because I didn’t like the way I looked. Ridiculous.
I got chatting to some of the women and they were from all over: Greece, Portugal, Spain, to name a few, and the insight was refreshing.
* They don’t compare themselves to what society says they should look like. They’re far more realistic. They’re also really supportive of one another and build each other up. With the genuine compliments that flowed to each other, there’s no way you can feel bad about yourself.
* They embrace their stretch marks and cellulite and see it as a strength of being a woman. One woman told me that she loves her dimples – they’re womanly and not something you see often on a man. Another reason why so many women tan topless, is to show off their femininity. It was a refreshing eye opener.
* They cut themselves some slack. One woman told me she’s a receptionist on holiday with her girlfriends. She said, “I’m not a model, I’m a receptionist… so I don’t have to look like a model.” It was so simple but profound – why do we put silly high standards onto ourselves, when we actually don’t have to?
* They focus on the positive. They don’t focus on their big thighs, or wobbly tummies, instead they gushed about how they loved their bum or they loved their pedicured feet, or their big hair. Funny enough, it made me focus on their positives too and the things that weren’t ‘perfect’ seemed to fade away!
I think we can all learn from this. Learn to look past the imperfections and focus on what’s really important. Live life in the moment without the insecurities stealing joy, laugh whole-heartedly and feel confident in who you are and what you have to offer, rather than the size of your thighs.
Tomorrow is Woman’s Day and I hope you focus on all the wonderful things that make you uniquely YOU.