I Went To A "Body Positive Pool Party"- Here's What Happened

Photo by Naomi Hopkins Photography

Photo by Naomi Hopkins Photography

I was recently invited to a “Body Positivity Pool Party” hosted by a friend and fellow blogger. I went, partly because I admire these women, and partly out of sheer curiosity.

“Body positivity” has been a buzz word for a while now.

And in theory, celebrating my flaws and being generally positive sounds like a great idea.

But in reality, I find it hard to be “positive” about my body.

I find it hard to ignore my saggy skin and my stretch marks and the extra baby weight I am still carrying, never mind the fact that I had my last baby almost 3 years ago.

I find it hard to forget the years of people telling me that I could work harder, eat less, eat differently, skip meals, take this pill, mix that shake, or stick to this program and eventually meet all my body goals.

I find it hard to not compare my body to others and wish I could look more like them.

I find it hard to not feel like a failure when my “goal weight” and my “inspiration jeans” remain an unmet marker of personal success.

Photo by Naomi Hopkins Photography

Photo by Naomi Hopkins Photography

But, these gals were so inspirational in their high-waisted bikinis and spunky attitudes, so I grabbed my black one piece that kinda, maybe camouflages my tummy- because I am still a work in progress, and I would rather my left boob hang out than show by stomach in a two piece. I know I should be more evolved, but…here i am!

In contrast to almost every waterside event I had ever attended, women of all sizes were walking around in their swimsuits. There was not an awkwardly draped towel or cover-up in sight. These ladies did not seem self-conscious or nervous. Everyone was unapologetically laughing and chatting and having fun.

Why did this seemingly simple concept feel so novel?

Because this was genuinely the first time I had been in a space with women who had the audacity to show up at a pool and have fun without the need to cover-up or make derogatory comments about how they looked or felt in a bathing suit. There was no readjusting while explaining that this suit makes my butt look too flat or too fat. There were no self-deprecating remarks about gross thighs or bloated bellies.

It was beautiful.

I looked around and wished that my children could see this. I made a commitment to stop critiquing my body in front of them. I made a vow to try my best to take this outlook back home to my everyday life in some effort to spare my children this lifelong struggle. 

I felt sadness for the girl in me who felt fat and unaccepted as a child, and has never since felt this freedom- to simply have permission to show-up and have a good time at the pool without all the side comments that I felt the need make in an attempt to ensure everyone around me that I knew my body was a mess. I thought, and maybe still think, that if I make comments and jokes about my flaws first, that someone else won’t get the chance. What an exhausting way to live.

So here I am, learning, struggling and wanting to do better.

I am not sure I am quite “body positive.” I am not sure I will ever LOVE my rolls or my jiggly thighs. I can not imagine wearing a tight dress without suffocating Spanx underneath. I wonder if I will ever follow a steady healthy lifestyle without yo-yoing to extremes. But, I am working on being neutral.

I am working on not placing too much value on my body when I fit into my skinny jeans, and not placing too much blame when I don’t feel confident in a bathing suit. I am working on remembering that I am more than my body. I am working on physical and mental health, and I am working towards happiness that is not a direct reflection of how I think that I look on a given day.

Photo by Naomi Hopkins Photography

Photo by Naomi Hopkins Photography

Photo by Naomi Hopkins Photography

Photo by Naomi Hopkins Photography

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Stephanie HollifieldComment