There was a time when bathing suit shopping wasn't quite as bad--that was my past life, of course. It was a life void of supportive cups and miracle panels and prints so loud that eyes are not only drawn up, they are drawn out of their sockets. I used to laugh at bathing suits that could literally stand out or stand up on their own. Now I need one.
To paraphrase Deborah on Everybody Loves Raymond, these were WORKING girls.
Not only that, but I'm built like a T-Rex, with J. Lo's butt. I'm 5' 5" with such short arms and legs that I sometimes have to buy petite sizes. When I was in elementary school, I would get accused of "acting hot" because my rear end stuck out so far. I never went through that storky leg stage, either. Good birthing hips and pioneer stock--that's me. And over the years, since I've worked out pretty regularly, I now have broader shoulders. Who knew I'd end up built more like my dad than my mom (who always talked about her hourglass figure being 15 minutes on top and 45 minutes on the bottom)? I'm a sumo-wrestling dinosaur who acts hot occasionally, while NOT wearing skinny jeans.
The funny thing is, I have finally made peace with my body's shape. It took a looooong time for me to accept it, but I now realize that just because something in the store doesn't fit, it doesn't mean I'm fat. I wish I could tell my 16-year-old self that she looked just fine--that just because I was curvy and some of my friends weren't, it didn't mean I was fat. And you know what? Even if I was fat, or am fat currently, who cares? I wish I'd have understood that I was just shaped differently, and it was okay. But bathing suit (and jeans) shopping still stinks.
I had a profound experience in the temple once, when I was 8 1/2 months pregnant. In LDS temples, we do vicarious ordinances (rites/sacraments/insert religious term you understand here) for those who have passed away, such as baptism, because we really do believe in life after death, and God wants everyone to return to Him. We also believe that families can be sealed together forever, which is why family history is so important to us. On this particular day about 3 years ago, I had very large cankles and about 40 extra pounds of pregnancy weight. I was not feeling pretty. As I was listening to the beautiful blessings and promises made, on behalf of someone who had long-since left this earth, I couldn't help but feel grateful for my body. I could use this body, as big and uncomfortable as it was, to help someone who couldn't help herself. I could provide her with an opportunity that she could not provide for herself, because her body and spirit are separated at the moment. Oh, I felt so beautiful. And so grateful. Then I remembered that I looked the way I did because I was carrying a precious baby boy--who also needed me to provide an opportunity for him to come to this earth and receive his own body. Aren't the tender mercies of the Lord wonderful and perfectly-timed?
I am grateful for a body that can do just about everything I want it to do. I am healthy and strong, and in an emergency, I am capable of running down the street with a child in each arm (which, by the way, has always been my fitness goal). I am grateful that these short arms can reach around my children when they need my hugs, and my short legs are strong enough to run races up the stairs with my boys. I am grateful that although I do not look like any sort of model, I am beautiful in the eyes of my husband, children, friends and God. I am grateful for people like NieNie who help me put things into perspective. (Watch this video about her, too.)
I still hate bathing suit shopping, but I'll get over it. Tomorrow will be a cute-Cheryl day.