We think of body shaming as a form of bullying, gossip, or something that happens extrinsically through communication like the media. In my experience, someone calling me fat or chubby hurts my feelings a bit, but the insults that I’ve formulated to shame my own body are 10x worse.
Before living in Brazil, I never realized the crazy tactics I had taken to avoid wearing a swimsuit. The last time I was excited to go swimming, without the fear of what I would look like in a swimsuit, I was an adolescent. Once I reached my teenage years, I recall ditching opportunities to spend time with my friends because they wanted to go to the pool, showing up to parties “late” so that I could avoid pool activities, and the list goes on.
In September, my study abroad program took us on a trip to Paraty, a historic colonial town in the state of Rio de Janeiro. It was by far one of my best vacations, and it was jam-packed with beach activities. When we arrived to our first beach stop, everyone was ecstatic. All the ladies already had their swimsuits on underneath their clothes. Prior to the trip, I tried on my bikini and nearly broke into tears. I hated the way my body looked, so I left it behind.
When I voiced to my program director and chaperon that I didn’t have a swimsuit, thinking I had once again dodged that bullet, they told me there were vendors on the beach selling cheap bikinis. At that moment, I realized I had to get over my fear.
Luckily, I didn’t have to do it alone. One of the ladies in my business program was right by my side helping me pick out a bikini and she even found one for herself. Once we changed into our new swim gear, we hit the beach and no one body shamed me, not even myself.
In Brazil, there's not one body type that you won’t see wearing a bikini on the beach. It’s not just limited to women, speedos are very common as well. And there’s no age limits on who should wear what. It’s such a different experience than what I’m accustomed to in the US. In the city of São Paulo, I see women of all different body types wear whatever they want on a daily basis and it’s never a problem. Whereas in the US, people are very sensitive about how people dress, and throughout the years, I’ve fallen victim to that very mindset.
Body shaming is a way to put limitations on your existence. It’s a concept that has left me loving my body in some cases and hating my body in others. It should never be that way. While I've overcome my fear, I'm still striving towards a more positive body image. I challenge you to find a place in your life that makes you uncomfortable, and wear it shamelessly.
I’d love to hear how you overcame or are currently struggling with a form of body shaming in your own life. Please share your story below in the comments section.
Até próxima vez, minhas pessoas lindas, keep life sweet and never stop feeding your soul. -xo