The Block Island Times
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Sea Glass: Bikini boss

By Lily O'Gara | Jul 25, 2014

Next week, I’ll be on a Disney cruise in the Bahamas. And, while I’m really excited about the trip, I’m nervous, too.

I’m not nervous because I dislike Disney (I know every word of every song) or because I’m afraid of boats (I’ve been on cruises in the past). Rather, I’m anxious about the same thing I struggle with every year: wearing a bikini.

According to TIME Magazine, the modern bikini can be traced back to July 1946, when French engineer Louis Réard unveiled a garment “smaller than the world’s smallest swimsuit.” It caused such a fashion “bang” that it was named after the nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

Since that fateful July in 1946, the bikini has only gotten smaller and inspired feelings of inadequacy in women around the globe. These feelings, paired with today’s figure and beauty-obsessed world, are enough to make any woman feel like she’s not good enough.

I felt that way until very recently, and I still have my bad days. I didn’t wear a bikini all throughout my teenage years, for fear of judgment. I dreaded summer because it meant pool parties and also, I thought, that I had to limit my food intake to look good in a bikini. I’ve never been more wrong.

Still, it’s not easy to walk down a beach 80 percent naked, even if you’re a Victoria’s Secret model (okay, maybe then). No matter how many times I’m told I look “beautiful” or “fine” by family members and friends, it’s sometimes difficult to resist the thought that everyone is focused on my imperfections.

The reality, though, is that most people are too busy worrying about themselves to be concerned about fellow beachgoer figures. Most women don’t look like supermodels, whose source of income relies on being toned and thin and beautiful. And Photoshop does not exist outside of glossy magazine pages.

Nor should it. Life would be pretty boring if everyone looked the same and I, for one, would really miss ice cream. And pizza. And also fries…

This is something that I’ve known my whole life, and embraced in on-again-off-again bouts of body empowerment and girl power. Now, though, I want to embrace it full-time, even on days that I don’t feel “bikini body ready,” especially since I now live in a beach community. The fact of the matter is that the only real way to get a “bikini body” is to put a bikini on your body; the rest is subject to interpretation.

There are many women who truly love their bodies, regardless of size and shape, who have felt this way for years. I think that’s a truly underrated and admirable trait, one that I’d like to cultivate within myself. I’m almost six feet tall and I have curves; I’m never going to be a size 2. I want to be okay with this, and spend more time focused on building the perfect sandcastle than worrying about if I have stomach rolls when I bend over. I also don’t want other women to miss out on life because they are scared of judgment. Rather, I’d like to help create a society in which every body is celebrated, in which no one is afraid to do something as simple as wear a bikini.

I’m embracing this mindset as soon as I step onto that cruise ship, and I’m going to show my bikini who’s boss.

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