Bathing Suits Are Not Good. . .

Here’s a picture that I send people a lot of times when they ask for a “before” picture for something they are writing.

At the Beach

You notice that the picture is taken on the beach. You will also notice that I am not wearing a bathing suit. Instead I am wearing homemade capri pants and a size 2X t-shirt. I did take off my little white tennis shoes, but that’s as far as it went. No bathing suit for me. It was extremely uncomfortable to be getting my capri pants soaking wet, but I didn’t want our little daughter to miss out on the fun.

I never loved parading around in a bathing suit. I’ve always been on the modest side so whenever I needed to wear a bathing suit I felt uncomfortable, even when I was an average size. But that feeling of basic uncomfortableness progressed to absolute horror once my size could be compared to that of a football player. And so I didn’t ever wear one again.

It wasn’t easy to live in Florida and not own a bathing suit – especially when so many people I knew had pools and beach/lake houses. The girls were frequently invited to pool parties when their little friends celebrated a birthday. And the invitation usually read, “Moms are welcome and encouraged to swim!” Yeah, right, I’d think.

But I’d lumber off to the party, excited girls in hand. I dreaded every minute of the days leading up to the party, knowing that me and my one other obese friend would be the ones standing at poolside watching our children swim with the other moms who weren’t mortified at the thought of wearing a bathing suit. I was always relieved when the party was over and I could escape.

I tried to convince myself that it was okay to wear a bathing suit but I just couldn’t do it. I even tried a few on in the “Women’s Department” at Sears but cried in the dressing room because it just looked so horrible. So I put the suits back on the rack and didn’t try one on again for about six years.

After I lost my 158 pounds I bought a bathing suit. Going swimming with my kids was pure joy. I didn’t love the way I looked in a bathing suit, but I just got into the water quickly and didn’t get out again until we were leaving. I knew that my arms and shoulders looked fine so whatever else I didn’t like couldn’t really be seen and I was okay with that.

To this day I still don’t parade around the pool deck in just my swimsuit, but I don’t completely avoid the pool and beach either. Just knowing that I can wear a bathing suit and not feel as though everyone is whispering about me is a victory. I wish I had possessed the self-confidence to just be comfortable in a suit while I was morbidly obese, but I didn’t.

How do you feel about bathing suits and swimming these days?  Diane

48 thoughts on “Bathing Suits Are Not Good. . .

  1. Deniz says:

    Funny you should write about this now… lovely hubby and I just made a pact to go swimming in the sea this year (haven’t done this in waaaay too long) and, for this, I’ll need a cozzie! Not feeling wonderfully confident about trying them on, but I WILL get one and then go for the 50 yard dash into the water when I think no-one will be looking 🙂
    .-= Deniz´s last blog ..Going home =-.

  2. JourneyBeyondSurvival says:

    I’m still a bit afraid. (Okay, I’m paralyzed) But, it did help when I was in Germany and had just lost 30 pounds. I kept biting my lip and getting sweaty palms over my mommy saggy pooch. Then I saw so many people at the Swimbat that would NEVER enjoy swimming in the states. They were fine, and nobody cared at all. A couple of times going there and I healed a lot of my psychological cultural wounds about perfection.

    So, I suppose there is hope.
    .-= JourneyBeyondSurvival´s last blog ..Borrowing Trouble From Tomorrow? =-.

  3. PhluffyPrincess says:

    i really enjoyed this post. one thing i am looking most forward to is swimming this summer in a brand new bathing suit. i haven’t had many “i feel great in a bathing suit” moments beyond high school, but i am so looking forward to having them this summer and for the rest of my life!
    .-= PhluffyPrincess´s last blog ..Don’t make me too skinny! =-.

  4. Fattie Fatterton says:

    Being a true Pisces, I love to swim. And it so helped my knee and back issues. I’ve learned that most people pay attention to themselves, not me, so I have no problem walking around in a bathing suit. That being said, I make sure that it’s a suit that covers me well. To that end, I wear swimming shorts so that there’s no chance of anything creeping up. And then I have a long tank on top. No skin in the middle or around my hiney is showing.
    .-= Fattie Fatterton´s last blog ..How I spent my 38th Birthday =-.

  5. 266 says:

    I never let my weight stop me from donning a bathing suit, but the thoughts of discomfort were definitely there. I am not sure I will ever be completely comfortable in such attire either, but I am more confident than I have been in the past and, again, will not let my overly critical eye deter me from swimming or playing by the pool or on the beach.
    .-= 266´s last blog ..Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction =-.

  6. Alissa says:

    I’m always embarassed when we go to the pool. I never want my weight to stop me from doing fun things, so I make myself go even though I’m uncomfortable. I just try to forget the feelings. I always feel like people are looking at me and making fun of me. But this story is inspiring!
    .-= Alissa´s last blog ..I’m on Twitter =-.

  7. Joanna Sutter says:

    I’m at exactly the same place as you are with bathing suits. I am not one that will walk around poolside without a towel wrapped around my waist. I’m modest like that! 😉
    .-= Joanna Sutter´s last blog ..Soup Kitchen =-.

  8. Diane says:

    I have been overweight my whole life, and I love to swim. In fact , I was on the community swim team while I was in highschool. To me, a bathing suit is a piece of equipment for the sport, and nothing more. A swimsuit MUST be functional,and for me that means a one piece with straps that cross in the back and a bottom end that will not ride up or fly in your face while swimming. I already have mine for this year. If you walk around the poolside or sunbathe, you are not swimming- and it’s something I never do. The water is just way too much fun to be in !
    .-= Diane´s last blog ..Nervous =-.

  9. Gina Fit by 41 Maybe 42 says:

    What!? No “after” bathing suit pic? Just kidding.

    Hate bathing suit season. Danny begged me to go with them to the pool in our new town. I did because our kids aren’t good swimmers, and we had a 3 yr old. I also didn’t want my fat to stop me. Oh, I hated it. Like you, I got in as quickly as possible. Of course, the shallow baby pool doesn’t hide much.

    Trying to pull a wet bathing suit on and off to use the bathroom was no fun.
    .-= Gina Fit by 41 Maybe 42´s last blog ..A Torrid Affair =-.

  10. Jody - Fit at 52 says:

    Diane, I HATED wearing a bathing suit when I was heavier. I was always the fat one with my friends & it was embarrassing. Like you, I often just left my shorts on OR a big shirt that covered everything.

    Even now, I am not a fan of bathing suits. I know I look decent for my age but I am pretty hard on myself plus I feel so “exposed”. In Hawaii, I am fine when I don’t know anybody but I still feel self conscious in a way… I think some of it is people expect me to look great in a bathing suit cause I am fit BUT we all know that we can hide certain things with clothes!
    .-= Jody – Fit at 52´s last blog ..Dr. J and PLAY! =-.

  11. Babbalou says:

    There is no errand that can ruin a good day faster for me than shopping for a bathing suit! Even when I weighed 115 pounds in high school I hated wearing bathing suits – a combination of perceived figure flaws and a highly developed sense of modesty. I’m not overweight (anymore) but still have issues, mostly with modesty. And it’s tough to find a suit that fits well – there are soooo many variations on the female figure and body type. I’m jealous of my husband who can purchase a bathing suit based solely on his waist size – he doesn’t even have to try them on! And men can wear suits that cover them from pretty much from the waist almost to the knees – no concerns with modesty and no thought of hair removal. I’ve tried on those suits with the matching gym shorts but they are so unflattering on me – I swear they add a good 20 pounds – I don’t need gathers around my waist. How I wish it were simpler!

  12. Don Doornbos says:

    Even us fellows can be swimsuit “challenged”…!

    AND even after having lost the weight that I have I am still horribly self-conscious over going shirtless, let alone be in a swimsuit. Having lost the weight I have I no longer have the fat over which to be embarrassed, but instead cringe over the thought of going public with all of my skin flabs and wrinkles…!

    I HATE it that I feel this way because now that I’m of normal weight, being in the sun feels so WONDERFUL…but I feel I still have to be so secretive in finding a place where I can simply walk about in shorts!

    Don

  13. Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman says:

    Call me weird, but I don’t hate bathing suit shopping. I’ll wear one to the beach, but I feel self-conscious about how white I am. Most of my body never gets sun so that first day I’m like blindingly white. Not pretty.

  14. Staci says:

    I cannot even tell you the last time I showed off in a bathing suit. I really need more work on my body image. I think it was in junior high. However, I am really wanting to get in one this year!
    .-= Staci´s last blog ..Day 2- No Soda =-.

  15. John says:

    You may think as a guy I wouldn’t have the same problem but I do. All my weight is stored above the belt so oviously I didn’t like going shirtless at the pool/beach.
    It wasn’t till I got down to around 280lbs three years ago and needed to start swim training for a triathalon that I went w/o the shirt. Funny thing though is that really when you go in the water and come out the shirt really isn’t disguising anything!
    .-= John´s last blog ..Toughest One Yet =-.

  16. Linda says:

    Oh yes! The dreaded bathing suit and swim parties!
    These days I feel better about wearing one but that was not always the case.
    When my son was 9 mos old and I was over 200 lbs, I enrolled us in a mommy and me swim class at the neighborhood pool. I loved it. He loved it. We had fun in the pool. One day when we got out I was approached by a woman. I thought she was going to tell me what an adorable baby I had but instead she asked me if I ever considered losing weight and of course I said something like “yes” as my eyes filled with tears. She handed me a card and a pamphlet and said something else, who knows what. I had ridden my bike with my tot to the pool and on the way home I cried the whole time. When I got home I threw the card and pamphlet away. I don’t even know what was on it.
    We did continue and finish the class but I never returned to the neighborhood pool.

    I’ll never forget that.
    .-= Linda´s last blog ..Thursday Box of Chocolates-3/11/10 =-.

  17. Jules - Big Girl Bombshell says:

    WOW! Bathing suits. I love to swim and go to the beach. After I had two pool boys at the gym talking about the “whale” in the pool, I was crushed! I quit the gym and refused to wear a bathing suit in public. I did get over that (sort of).
    Just trying to remember that others have opinions like I do, and yes, some may be inappropriate and cruel and say them out loud, I cannot stop myself from what I enjoy because of a few others.
    I do wear my bathing suit in public. I wrap in a towel until it is time to go in the water or I wear a pair of shorts over my suit. It was a big hurdle to overcome just like everything else to do with weight loss.
    Thanks for the post!
    .-= Jules – Big Girl Bombshell´s last blog ..Just a Hint =-.

  18. Leah says:

    Funny…I just went shopping for one the other day. I need to keep looking for one a little more modest. 🙂

    I get embarrassed to be seen in a bathing suit, but I will go to the pool and swim with my kids. I’m also the whitest of white, and I know white and fat are not a good mix.

    However, last summer I decided I would wear my coverup, as always, when out of the pool, but I was going to spend a lot more time in the pool with my kids. I was not going to miss out on having fun with them just because of my size. I was still a little self conscious, but I just ignored myself (my thoughts ..) .

    As I’ve said before, learning to love myself no matter if I ever lost another pound was the first step towards even wanting to work on losing weight.

    I still look forward to the day when I am looking a little better in a suit, but I don’t tan well at all; and I am not a woman who will be parading around on deck in just a suit whether I’m thin or fat. 😛

    Good topic, Diane!

  19. 'Drea says:

    Let’s just say that I had a swimming suit that lasted for over a decade.

    If I hadn’t lost weight, I would have never learned how to swim. Can’t believe what I’ve been missing out on all of these years…

    And, now, swimming suits don’t last for very long.
    .-= ‘Drea´s last blog ..Keep Breathing =-.

  20. RNegade says:

    Mean people (and tabloid journalists) are going to whisper about you (or me) wearing a swimsuit at whatever our weight. We could be skinny and airbrushed to within an inch of our lives and the judgemental folks will still find fault.

    Loving and compassionate people don’t judge others based on size or looks. I mean, I’m pretty sure that Jesus would never “tsk tsk” over anyone’s cellulite.

    Why place more importance on a mean person’s opinion than on God’s opinion?

    Delight in the water and sunshine!

  21. WaistingTime says:

    Even at my thinnest I am never totally comfortable in a swimsuit. I found that I feel much better in the skirted kind, but they float up awkwardly in the water:( And I have a very hard time finding suits that fit me on top… I cannot fill up those cup liners!

  22. Mia says:

    I grew up on a lake so everyone swam. I always wore a T-shirt over my suit. As a teenager, I always had a coverup on. Today, I wear a suit that covers everything though I still fret about my legs/thighs. But I have to laugh because lately, I’ve been thinking that even if I had long slender legs, I am sure I would come up with something else to cringe about. I think that like others posting today, I will never be absolutely comfortable in a suit.

  23. Jenelle says:

    At my heaviest I wasn’t happy in a swimsuit, but I’d still wear my skirted size 22 one-piece in all its glory once a year on my family trip to the beach. I remember looking around and finding comfort in the fact that there were other overweight women at the beach letting it all hang out too.

    After reaching goal weight I was SO EXCITED to go bathing suit shopping. My body’s not perfect and I might not ever be able to wear a bikini, but I was really excited to show off my hard work. I even went for a run on the beach with my brother in just my suit! I can’t explain how freeing that was for me.
    .-= Jenelle´s last blog ..Recipe: Whole Wheat Blueberry Banana Muffins =-.

  24. tj says:

    I do not own a regular bathing suit- all of mine have skirts. Thank God for that! 🙂 I don’t think I will ever feel totally comfortable, but I feel better than I ever have. 🙂
    .-= tj´s last blog ..LOTS-O-STUFF =-.

  25. Brenda says:

    The more weight I lose, the better I feel about wearing a bathing suit, but even in my early 20’s when I was 115-120 pounds I never felt ‘comfortable’ in them. When I was over 200 pounds, it was hard being seen in one because I always picked out black ones (black makes you look thinner ha) and they always had a skirt built in long enough to hide my horrible roll of a stomache and back end. On a 5’2″ me, they never quite fit right or hid a whole lot.
    .-= Brenda´s last blog ..Motivation =-.

  26. Erin says:

    I did the whole boxer shorts and a long tshirt to swim in for years. I actually bought a swimsuit for the first time last summer. I need to dig it out and see if I’ll be buying an new one this year (I’m betting I will!).

    I’m also very modest in my clothing choices, so finding a suit that isn’t too skimpy is hard! I felt much more confident last summer in my suit than I ever did in the tshirt and boxers. I am looking forward to this summer! Nebraska summers are scorchers and we spend alot of time on the lakes and rivers around here! 🙂

  27. Amy says:

    I’m uncomfortable in them! Like you, I tend to be more modest anyway, so a swimsuit is hard. I totally agree when you are heavy it is even harder to wear them…I usually would wear shorts & a huge t-shirt over it!
    I’m aiming to be in my nice modest one by summer…one step at a time!
    Btw, I do have a weight loss blog besides my regular one…nothing fancy, but I just wanted you to know. Thank you for your words of encouragement!
    http://weight-in-gold.blogspot.com/
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..…it’s that time again… =-.

  28. Taryl says:

    Well, living in Alaska now afford me the luxury of mostly avoiding bathing suits. Thing is, my kids will be getting swim lessons at the local pool eventually, and I DO want to wear a suit then. But interestingly, it isn’t my weight that has held me back, but some ugly scarring on my upper arms from keratosis pilaris. The weight never much mattered to me (but then, I grew up swimming since both my mom and dad had pools, and I was always a little chunky – so I was inoculated to how I looked in a one-piece!).

    The scars are fading pretty well and no new ones have been added, so I am hoping that when the occasion to swim rolls around in a few years my weight will be in line with the rest of me 🙂
    .-= Taryl´s last blog ..A Gummy Bear! =-.

  29. Jeremy Logsdon says:

    Swimming trunks are pretty scary for big guys, too. I just recently found the self-esteem to go shirtless at the pool, despite not having a beach body AT ALL. And I’m much the same as you. I’ll do it, but I still don’t linger much outside of the water. 🙂
    .-= Jeremy Logsdon´s last blog ..Weekend Warriors Update =-.

  30. Marcelle says:

    I hated wearing a bathing suit in my fatter days…and did when I went to the beach but use to lie on one spot and never move…even at the pool in Germany – I would lie…and long to get into the water but could not take the walk to the pool with everyone looking at me.

    Today I wear my costume, as you have seen in my blog while on holiday and I walk now…but still I don’t like the lose skin on my tummy, legs and arms…now I’ve lost the weight but something else bothers me…I tell myself its also my age, and I’m a Nana now so cant look like my daughter when she wears a costume…and she is so slim and trim and hates her figure, I tell her she is crazy to enjoy this time as she will look back at this time in years to come and wonder what she hated.
    .-= Marcelle´s last blog ..I’m feeling down =-.

  31. Brenda Kaye says:

    Oh this is such a good topic. At my age it is also an ironic one. While I am trying to talk myself into wearing a suit, I am trying to talk my teenage daughter out of wearing too skimpy of a bathing suit.
    .-= Brenda Kaye´s last blog ..2 Words: STOMACH BUG =-.

  32. Danielle says:

    I’m at the beginning of my weight loss journey, but last year when I realized I was going to be traveling and would have access to hotel pools I ordered a bathing suit online from Athleta, whom I’d ordered some exercise clothes from. I love to swim, and when I was little, friends and family would refer to me as a water bug in the summer. Lake, pool, ocean, didn’t matter, I just wanted to be in the water. When I wear my bathing suit I feel like the fat kid at summer camp, even though it does actually fit. I only ended up being able to wear it twice, and while I was glad that my friend and I were the only ones in the pool, but I was also glad that I didn’t let my being uncomfortable in my suit stop me from going in the pool.
    .-= Danielle´s last blog ..How much food? =-.

  33. Katie says:

    I haven’t worn a bathing suit for 10 years, but having lost 40 pounds since Christmas, I brought one along for our trip to Mexico last week. I wore it and played in the ocean and the pool and was happy and proud and had FUN! No, I don’t look great, but I look pretty “normal” now–even though I still have a lot to lose. It felt so good to just get in the water and play and not have to miss out, once again.
    .-= Katie´s last blog ..40 pounds lost! =-.

  34. Tiffany says:

    Let’s just say I haven’t worn a bathing suit in YEARS. I feel like being as young as I am that this is some sort of right that I have- I can’t wait to buy a cute and classy one piece that I can rock on the lake!

  35. Siobhan says:

    Wow, busy topic. I wasn’t happy with how I looked at 228 in my swimsuit, but wore it anyway because we are at the lake most of the summer. I was more bothered by not being able to pull myself up the ladder to get into the boat from the middle of the lake. Yikes. It was pretty embarrassing to have to have my daughter push while I tried to climb. Sadly, even that didn’t motivate me to lose weight.
    .-= Siobhan´s last blog ..Well, darn =-.

  36. Amy says:

    Oh, bathing suits – eck! I have never felt comfortable in them. I think part of it is just getting used to wearing one, since I rarely do. Always amazes me when watching the Belgian version of “Survivor” – those ladies spend all day long in a bikini!
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Ten Random Things about Me =-.

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