August 3, 2013 by Beth Hess
My son has been requesting a trip to the water park since long before it was even warm enough to consider. But now it’s August in North Carolina, and that’s no longer a good excuse. I had become pretty creative at coming up with them, though.
Because I don’t like the size of my swimsuit.
But today was the day, and I headed out in my favorite cover-up and flip-flops to make the best of it. Jumping into the pool as quickly as I could to let the water cover me. (Everyone knows water distorts things, so there’s really no way to know what’s going on under there.)
It didn’t take long, however, for me to stopping thinking about myself and start looking around.
The whole place was full of beautiful people. Not beautiful because of the curve of their hips or the size of their swimsuits. Beautiful because of their smiles and their splashes — because of their uniqueness and their imperfections.
I saw big and small. Young and old. Tattoos and piercings.
I saw expectant bellies and beer guts. Toned abs and shiny hair.
I saw families and birthday celebrations and church groups all together.
I saw bravery as little feet jumped into adult arms. And delight when your brother gets surprised by the bucket of water. And strangers connecting for the common cause of navigating the lazy river.
I got an “underwater back massage” and 8-year-old swimming pool hair styling. I got wet. I got silly. I got a little too much sun.
I did NOT get ridiculed. Or pointed at. Or whispered about.
In fact, if there was any judgment at all going on out there today, it was the one thing I didn’t see.
So I’m feeling pretty good that today I didn’t hide behind my body.
Maybe I’ll try it again tomorrow.
P.S. My son just saw the title of this post and asked
“What do you mean that today you didn’t hide behind your body?”
Me: It means I thought I was too fat to go to the waterpark, but I went anyway.
8-year-old truth-teller: Oh, whatever!
Note: The image included in this post is titled Thin or Large Woman? Which do you see? It is the work of the very talented artist and author Emily Wierenga to capture the essence of an ambiguous woman and show how we tend to see what we believe about ourselves — not the truth. It was commissioned for the book Almost Anorexic by Jennifer Thomas, PhD and Jenni Schaefer.