The truth is I've worn a bikini once in my entire life, and even then I wore it under a t-shirt and a pair of shorts and I never let it see the light of day. I bought the bikini on a cruise ship (I can't remember why I needed a bathing suit, given that I should have packed beach suitable wear and that usually means togs), but only because none of the stores sold anything bigger than a two piece and I refuse to let that much skin show in public. This modesty was bought on more by the fact that I was a very curvy size 18 - 20 at the time than any sense of decency and I hated my body greatly at this time. I had actually gone on a diet in preparation for the cruise (my first and only attempt at dieting) which consisted of eating something like minestrone soup and very little else for several months. I lasted 3 days before the sugar withdrawals sent me crazy and my mum insisted I eat something else. I have battled for a long time with my body image, my first memories of hating my body being at about age 16. The funny thing is I look back at photos of myself at this time and there was nothing wrong with me. I was quite skinny and very pretty and could wear figure hugging clothes easily, but for some reason when I looked in the mirror all I could see was a fat person. I could kick myself knowing how much time I wasted wishing I was skinnier when the truth was I was healthy and perfectly fine exactly how I was.
By the time I was 17 things had changed for me. I had stopped caring about myself since I thought I was so ugly so I put all kinds of nasty into my body. I used to drink 2 litres of coke a day and eat anything I felt like. I also did zero exercise and when I wasn't at school I was either sleeping or on the internet. And I felt huge. I probably wasn't more than a size 16 at the time but I might as well have been a size 22. I started wearing huge baggy clothing to hide my shape and hating myself even more. It went on and on like this for the next couple of years, I did the one minestrone diet which was a spectacular failure, but any other time I wanted to lose weight I'd walk to try and lose the flab. And it would work, until I got bored with walking or distracted by something else or winter came and then I'd stop. I joined gyms which was always a terrible waste of hundreds of dollars because I never had the motivation, and I hate exercising in public. I hated going clothes shopping because the dressing room mirrors were never gentle with my flaws and made my thighs look like chicken drumsticks. There was also the problem that I could never find any clothing in my size that I felt pretty in or that wasn't covered in huge floral prints. (Why do clothing designers think fat women want to look like walking flower beds?) I was miserable and felt powerless and hideous. None of my boyfriends could ever convince me that I was pretty or sexy or worthy of happiness, no matter how much they tried.
I can look back at this part of my life and talk about it now as if it was such a long time ago, but I can't tell you exactly when I stopped hating my body. I think it was such a gradual thing I didn't even realise at the time what was happening. It probably started with accepting that this is the body I was given, and I really should be happy that I have a whole, fully functioning body that serves its purpose as it is meant to. Then I learned how to dress like I actually like myself and the confidence started coming back. Then I fell pregnant with Miss K and I couldn't hate the stretch marks or the lumps and bumps any more because they all served a greater purpose than all of my complaining combined. And after Miss K was born mum had her heart attack and a whole set of diet and lifestyle changes were brought on which helped us all gain healthier slightly smaller bodies. I think that really brought home the fact that I should be happy with what I have been given because there are so many more important things to think about than how I look in a bikini.
So I'm still not the perfect size, in fact I'm still classed as obese even though I don't feel it these days. But I'm truly happy with my body, as without it, I wouldn't have been able to have Miss K, and she is totally worth the stretch marks and bulgy tummy I carry around under my t-shirt these days.