My Ten Year Bikini Challenge
I spent a lot of life hiding my self in a one-piece. Or a tankini with a skirt. Often avoiding the beach or, if I went, feeling painfully awkward and uncomfortable, assuming all eyes were on me and judging my imperfect body.
There was the one year I traveled to Cancun and Australia and I got brave enough to wear a bikini that I had got at Old Navy, except I strategically cropped the pictures to hide my tummy and hips.
Those pictures were seven years and six sizes ago. I was actually at my lowest weight ever, but I didn’t feel nearly as happy or confident as I do today.
If you had told me that in 2017 at a size 14-16, I’d not only be wearing bikinis in professional photoshoots, but helping other women find the self-love and courage inside themselves to do it too...
….I’d have probably run away crying.
But over the last four years I’ve been running towards a mission:
To love and honor myself, body included, and to help other women do the same.
I call myself the Curvy Confidence Coach, and what I love about the word confidence is its origin.
“con” = “with” “fidence” = “faith”.
How do we lose confidence? Every time we “fail” ourselves, we erode our self-trust…our faith in ourselves. Diet after diet, falling off the wagon, and gaining back the weight we worked so hard to lose. Saying yes to relationships, jobs, and obligations that deep down we knew were a no. Staying quiet when we wanted to yell and hiding and apologizing for ourselves and our bodies day after day.
Then last year, when my friend Edrea Lara, a photographer on a similar journey brought up the idea of doing a photoshoot with women in bikinis on the beach. I was in.
Since last August we’ve facilitated two in person workshops (one with The Fat Girls Dance Squad when they visited LA) and have another coming up in August. But this year I decided to bring the experience online in a free Seven Day Wear The Bikini Challenge.
If women every where can take back the beach, maybe they’d have the courage to take back the world! Because there’s no wrong way to wear a bikini. And there’s no wrong way to live your life. I see the bikini as a symbol of the unattainable. This piece of fabric that so many women believe they can only wear once they have that "perfect body".
What if, by wearing the one thing that you should not be supposed to wear - a woman with a belly, body hair, sagging boobs, wrinkles, stretch marks, thunder thighs, cellulite or some other hidden shame - What if you gained all of the courage to do the other things you're not supposed to do too?
To show up in the world with the built in resilience to say: “I’m here. I know I belong. I know I’m worthy. And I’m not ashamed of this body or who I am.”
Through the challenge, I guided the women through embodiment practices like dancing around their house in their bikinis! There was also a social media contest to encourage them to start taking up space online.
Then more pictures were shared in the private Facebook group, with messages like this one that moved me to tears:
“I feel like am becoming ME again. A year ago, I almost lost my son and I had no idea how much that was weighing on me and my health. Today he is happy and healthy, thank goodness, but a few months ago, I looked in the mirror and I wasn't me anymore. I was on so many pills, having heart problems, and at least 50 pounds up from the year before. I hated what I had become. Little did I know, my body was trying comfort and protect me. Even just a week ago, I was shaming myself daily for what I had become.”
I've spent a lot of time rebuilding faith in myself. It’s not always easy to trust that who I am, what I have to share and the space I have to hold is wanted.
Bit by bit.
Day by day.
I take up my space by doing workshops and challenges like this, because I know the impact they have in helping women stand up for their worth in the world, and THAT gives me the confidence to keep going.