How to have a beach body? Have a body. Go to the beach. Right. I know this to be true, now, but for years it wasn’t that simple for me. Life just wasn’t a beach. Even though I loved the beach, the sea and being sun kissed, I didn’t like my body on the beach. Especially not in a bathing suit or bikini. I felt like I didn’t belong there. The beach is a place for slim, toned and perfect people. At least that was what I told myself.
A couple of days ago I visited my mom and asked her if she had pictures of me as a child and a teen on the beach. What I saw really hurt me. I went from a little happy girl playing in the sand to an awkward teen who covered up her size 12 body. I remember feeling like that. Ashamed. Huge. Not good enough. Fat. I covered my body with my arms or wore a big t-shirt that would hide everything that I now know to be beautiful.
‘I missed out on a lot of fun at the beach’
I’ve been uncomfortable with my beach body for years. It started when my curves appeared and it ended when I decided to love myself. That was about twenty years later. I missed out on a lot of fun at the beach. I remember being 14 and walking on a Spanish beach with a friend during a holiday saying ‘Next year I want to be skinny enough to wear a thong on the beach’. I don’t know why on earth I wanted to wear a thong bikini but my statement screams ‘not good enough’. And it really sucks that I felt like that growing up.
‘I didn’t have the confidence to walk from my beach chair to the bar in my bathing suit’
A couple years later I was on the beach with friends. I did not want to take off my dress. It would make me feel exposed and vulnerable to actually show my body in a bathing suit. Only during a holiday outside of The Netherlands I’d sometimes feel good enough to sit on a beach in a bikini. Especially when it was a ‘private beach’ or when there would be almost nobody around. In The Netherlands there are a couple of beaches with bars filled with shiny, happy and ofcourse skinny people. I sometimes ended up there with friends and felt so ashamed of my size that I would actually fully dress myself again before ordering a drink at the bar. I didn’t have the confidence to walk from my beach chair to the bar in my bathing suit. Whenever someone would look at me when I was on a beach I thought I was being judged for being overweight. I felt like an intruder, like I wasn’t supposed to be there.
‘I remember feeling like that. Ashamed. Huge. Not good enough. Fat’
As a model I always tried to avoid bikini and lingerie shoots. Only when surprised –or when I felt like I needed to get over myself- I would accept wearing lingerie or bathing suits during shoots. Shooting curves is not something every photographer can do well, that was part of my fear. The last lingerie shoot I did was a disaster. So unflattering. When I saw the magazine I could do nothing but cry. Never again, I said to myself.
‘This is my body, my only body and therefore I will love it’
About 2,5 years ago my mom took me on a holiday. Before I left a friend told me on Facebook that she wanted me to post a picture in bikini when I got back. It made me nervous but I accepted the ‘challenge’. During the holiday I would for the first time in years feel at ease in my bikini. No shame anymore. It wasn’t my body that changed, but my mind. You can say my mind expanded a size or two. I had finally let go of everything I believed to be true about my beach body. This is my body, my only body and therefore I will love it.
‘My beach body has never been more ready’
And now here I am posting selfies in a bikini on the internet because Gabi Fresh and Ashley Graham told me to. It still scared me but I’m loving every part of it. Even though it’s February and I’ll probably have to wait for months to be able to flaunt my curves in a bikini, my beach body has never been more ready. Now gimme a beach!
What’s your story when it comes to your body? Have you ever felt like you didn’t have a beach body? I’d love to hear from you!