There are not many things that make me cry… actually, who am I kidding, I cry at everything these days. I am, as they say, a ‘sensitive soul’. Even so, as I made my way to Cobblers Beach on Sunday, I couldn’t quite believe that I was about to cry over something as silly as taking my clothes off. I was scared. Not ‘jumping out of a plane’ scared, but scared in a sense of feeling really damn vulnerable. I was scared of other people judging my body the way I have been judging it.
‘Going to a Nudist Beach’ was one of the first comfort zone challenges I set for myself when I started the blog last year. So when I found out about the Sydney Skinny I thought it would be the perfect way to tick it off my comfort zone list. The event is in its fourth year and it’s a 300m or 900m ocean swim that is swam completely in the nude. I can’t tell you how many friends I tried to convince to join me, but I swear I could have got more people to go skydiving than to get their kit off in public.
I get it, I was apprehensive too. I wouldn’t exactly say that I am ashamed of my body, but my relationship with it over the years has probably been one of judgement and control, rather than acceptance and trust. I’ve never exactly been overweight (well, if you don’t count the hefty Heathrow Injection I acquired on my gap year), but the thing I’ve learned is that how you feel about your body actually has very little to do with what size or shape you are.
For a long time that had been an unfathomable concept for me. I felt that it was normal that I should like my body more when I weighed a certain amount and when I started tipping the scales, naturally I wouldn’t like it so much. Over the years that has led to me trying to control my weight – calorie counting, so-called ‘health kicks’, quitting sugar or whatever other food plans that I convinced myself wasn’t really a diet. But here’s the thing – I like cake. I like croissants. And I LOVE chocolate. So no matter how much will power I summoned I would eventually ‘fail’ and self-loathing would ensue and so too would a few extra pounds.
So as I walked down to Cobblers Beach, ready to strip off, all I could think about was how I was going to have to expose my growing booty to the world. Once I got to the bottom of the hill, however, I started talking to everyone around me and as we laughed and chatted I started thinking about how ridiculous it is that we place so much value in how we look. I am still the same person whether I am my ideal weight or holding a few extra kilos. My friends, my family and any other person I come in contact with is unlikely to be thinking “I would like her more if she was 5kg lighter”, and god if they were would I really want to be friends with that person? Umm, no.
I mean this isn’t news to me, I know this deep down. But I do have to keep reminding myself of it sometimes. I have to keep remembering that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Once I finally got down onto the beach this became abundantly clear. As I looked around at all these naked bodies I no longer worried about my own body looked like. Not because I was comparing myself to them, but because when you actually take a look at the real world (as apposed to Vogue magazines and Seafolly advertisements) there is so much diversity.
When the time finally came to strip off I was surprisingly ok about it. Actually, I would go as far to say that it was thoroughly liberating! As I stood in the water ready for the swim to start I was smiling so much, thinking how cool it was that I was totally ok standing there with no clothes on. Although cool is probably not how I looked – swimming cap, goggles and a bare butt. Sexy!
The swim itself was great, in fact after all my training I kind of felt like I should probably have done the 900m. It was all over a little bit too soon. But for me it was never really about the swim, it was all about my body image. Signing up for the Sydney Skinny has really brought my relationship with my body (and food) into focus. It’s encouraged me to ditch dieting so I can let go of controlling what I eat, avoid binge eating and stop feeling a little bit craycray about food. Actually what I am focusing on more these days is 100% body acceptance and self-acceptance. I’m celebrating the amazing things my body can do and the life that it allows me to lead. And mostly it’s about setting a rock solid example for my daughter for what loving yourself for who you are looks like.
Who’s in for next year?!