Who doesn’t look at vacations as a way to break out of the daily-life rut, the monotony, and well—all the stress that comes with it? I did too, until in an unfortunate twist of fate, I decided to head out for a beach vacation to Monte Carlo, Monaco.
I would lie if I say that the picturesque beaches, the lucrative beach parties, the larger-than-life casinos, and the idea of playing dress up—all inspired from Instagram pictures—didn’t push me to make this call. But seeing it in pictures is one thing, experiencing things first-hand is another. And though it may sound surprising, the experience wreaked havoc on my mental health.
Not the beach or the waves or the clear-blue skies, d-uh!—but my fellow women enjoying it.
Seeing bikini-clad women flaunting their near-perfect physique gave me self-esteem issues
If you too are body conscious, you know I am not kidding when I say watching women clad in bikinis, oozing self-confidence from every angle can be quite intimidating.
And well, if you can’t relate, then the findings of a research conducted at Chapman University in California, USA, will make you believe me and the seriousness of what I’m trying to say here.
“Our results show that seeing slender and bikini-clad models had an immediate and direct impact on how women feel about their own bodies—and that impact was mostly negative,” said David A. Frederick, Ph.D, assistant professor of health psychology at Chapman University and lead author on this study.
All this, courtesy the beauty industry and people in general being dismissive of a body without visible abs, perfect assets, toned limbs, and a tucked-in stomach. Skinny models grace the ramps and are praised for carrying off bikinis and swimsuits while those with an extra flab here and there just encouraged to “embrace what they have”. All this honestly, creates a hell lot of a difference.
This difference is exactly what bit me during the vacation as watching the picture-perfect women rocking swimsuits shattered my self-confidence to the point of wearing cover-ups to the beach—not out of comfort, but out of a complex—and feeling exceptionally low throughout.
If you’re not as forgetful as I am, chances are that the memories of such scarring vacations could prevent you from regaining the lost body confidence even after coming back to the real world.
But there’s only one thing I’d like to say here: Fellow women who’ve worked hard on their bodies aren’t competition, they are inspirations. That doesn’t mean you’re any less.
Over the years, I’ve learnt to be more body confident
It wasn’t easy, I’ll tell you that. I have struggled with my weight for years – so shedding off my complexes did take some time.
I started off small, by listing all the things that I did like about my body. I also stopped saying negative things about the way I look. It took a while before I could appreciate my body for the way it is, but eventually “I have ugly flabby arms” was replaced by “Damn, I look good in a tank top”.
In this world of social media and doctored pictures, it’s hard to embrace your imperfections. I started by finally accepting that I am not lesser, just different–and proud of it. You can too!