Nothing like kick-starting the site again with a guest post from one of my favorite people. Miss Kendall shares her heart on the struggle that so many of us have battled. If you can relate, let us know! Also, while you’re at it, go ahead and subscribe because there are exciting things coming soon.
Spring Break is among us and it is tugging on my heart in more ways than one. As I scroll through my Instagram I see photo after photo of young, beautiful girls posing in their bikinis. Before I go on, let me say that I too, have posted plenty of pictures of myself in a two-piece swimsuit, and don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. But, I think the reason my heart breaks at the sight of them now, is because I know the mindset and motivation behind posting them.
I’ve never loved my body. Let’s be real, I don’t think very many people do. I was not blessed with the whole “eat whatever you want and never gain a single pound” type of body. I was never severely overweight, but I was never considered to be thin either.
Starting in middle school, I would dread spring break and summer time because I knew it meant I would need to be in a swimsuit. My number one concern was that people would see my stretch marks on the sides of my hips/stomach. My mom always told me that they were from a growth spurt, which I now know is true, but I thought she was just saying that to make me feel better. I remember going to the grocery store alone with my mom to buy scar removal cream and hiding it from my sisters at home because I was so ashamed.
I never changed in front of anyone. My sophomore year, I had gym class every morning, and I always chose to change my clothes behind the safety of a shower curtain. I thought if a girl from my class saw that I had stretch marks, I would most definitely be labeled as the fat girl and people wouldn’t want to be friends with me.
I wore my first bikini that year when my family went on spring break. I wasn’t comfortable in the slightest. I knew my stomach looked flattest when I was laying down on a beach chair. Even if I was drenched in sweat, I wouldn’t risk standing up to walk to the pool because I knew my stomach would stick out. Every time I caught someone looking at me, I immediately thought they were thinking, “she’s so fat” or “why is she wearing a bikini?”
You’re probably wondering, if I hated it so much, then why wouldn’t I just wear a tankini or something I felt more comfortable in? I wanted to wear a bikini because I wanted people from my school to think that I was skinny enough to. Pictures would be taken and posted and I wanted to convince everyone that I had a good enough body to be wearing a bikini. Fast forward to my junior year. I had become a little more comfortable in my own skin. I could tolerate wearing a swimsuit in front of family and close friends without wanting to curl up in a ball and die, but it wasn’t like I felt like I was the hottest girl ever.
Instagram had become a lot more popular by this point. In May, I went to Michigan for a day with some of my friends, and I remember being anxious about having to wear a swimsuit. But I was determined to get a cute Instagram photo in my bikini, looking skinny, so people on social media would think that I was. So I sucked in my stomach as much as I could, and we took a bunch of group photos. I chose to post the one that I looked thinnest in. The other girls posted their favorites as well. After uploading my picture to Instagram, I remember constantly checking my phone to see who had liked the photo. I needed to know that people would think I was skinny. I needed to feel like I was just as good as the other girls, who in my eyes, had perfect bodies.
Do you see what I’m getting at? That is only one example of countless times I can remember posing in my bikini, editing my cellulite and stretch marks, and posting a photo on social media so that I would feel like others thought I was good enough. And I’m not saying I’m completely past this stage, because I’m not. It’s something that I still struggle with, and I think a big motivation in wanting to overcome it, is watching my little sisters at the same age I was when I struggled with it the most. I think of my niece and my future daughters. I want to be an example of a woman who knows she is beautiful in the image of God and lives her life like she believes it.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sharing photos in a swimsuit. Heck, I love seeing all of the cute beach pics! However, my hope and prayer is that when we share those types of photos, we aren’t seeking the approval of others. I thought I was the only girl on the planet experiencing this at the time. There is comfort in knowing you are not alone, and that you are loved. We are all SO dang beautiful in our own skin. Isn’t it so awesome that God created us each to be exactly the way we are?!
“For we are God’s handiwork..” Ephesians 2:10