It was a black one-piece suit with red trim and it was my absolute favorite. It was a plain thing. Nothing special, but I loved it. It was before we moved away so I had to be around seven or eight. I was sitting on the back of a boat, or maybe it was a dock, at one of my elementary school friends houses. I think it was a boat for some reason. Anyway, I got up and jumped into the water. Later realizing I had left a small piece of fabric attached to the boat.
I had a small hole on my bum.
I realized two things that day.
1. I could love an outfit and in one instant, it is ruined.
2. I could feel self-conscious in a bathing suit.
Luckily, I eventually forgot the hole on my bum. I was much older the next time I realized wearing a bathing suit could make your skin crawl while counting all the eyes in the room. We had moved back to Texas and my parents bought a house with a pool in it, I was so excited. I was swimming with some friends when I realized that the others around me had already gone through puberty or were going through it. They had started to thin out and I was still carrying my baby fat, puberty was still a few years off for some of us.
I instantly got afraid of how others perceived my body. I wanted to swim in a shirt, soon enough I learned that once you get out that wet shirt clings to your body and highlights EVERYTHING!
For years I refused to swim saying it was because I thought pool water was pee water, c’mon y’all know I was partially right ;).
I also blamed my fear on the James Bond movies Thunderball, The Spy Who Loved Me, and License To Kill. I was legit afraid of swimming in a pool and sharks eating me. Maybe I should be checked out by someone because I am not afraid of swimming with them in the ocean.
I clung to that fear of being judged for wearing a swimsuit into college.
I’ve tried really hard to just put on a swimsuit and get in without forcing my mind to think every person is looking at my body judging all the imperfections. I have stood as close to the pool as possible waiting for everyone to stop looking at me so I can get undressed real fast and get into the water calmly.
While putting on my swimsuit I close my eyes and go back to the Texas sun shining down on my skin, the innocence of swimming all day, sand slipping between my fingers forgetting about sunscreen. Back before I got a hole on my bum. In the days where I just loved wearing my black swimsuit with the red trim.