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Health & Wellness Articles  ›  Look as Good as You Feel

Boost Your Bathing Suit Confidence

How to Feel Your Best When You're Baring It All

-- By Ellen G. Goldman, Certified Wellness Coach
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While training one of my clients, we had a conversation that left me thinking for days. Elaine has been exercising with me for over 10 years, is in her seventies, and truly one of my role models. Her high energy, devotion to staying fit and healthy, and positive attitude towards life—along with her trim and toned body—were things that I admired.

I mentioned how happy I was that I had bought some new bathing suits before a winter vacation, and thus could avoid the dreaded bathing suit shopping that we all embark on come spring. (Yes, I too, put bathing suit shopping on the top of my list of things I prefer to avoid.)

Elaine replied, "I haven't worn a bathing suit in over 20 years." I was shocked and confused. This is a woman who travels to Florida a few times each winter, has a beautiful pool in her backyard that her grandchildren play in all summer, and has a body most 70-year-olds would envy. Why in the world would she deny herself the joys of swimming and playing in the pool or lounging on the Florida beaches?

Her answer: "I can't stand to have my body that bare for the world to look at. It's wrinkled, flabby and old!" Her response was upsetting. If someone like Elaine, a self-assured, confident and smart woman, has body image issues, is there hope for any of us? And, will these feelings follow us through life, into our 70s, 80s and beyond? How in the world did it get like this?

At this time of year, the warm weather can dramatically affect our body images. We shed our bulky sweaters and jackets, no longer able to hide our bodies from the outside world. Shorts replace pants, spaghetti straps replace long sleeves, and of course, a visit to the beach bares even more!

Media headlines all share a common theme, promoting quick weight loss, summer shape-ups, and choosing the right bathing suit to hide your flaws. Their message is loud and clear: You can't possibly be thin enough, toned enough or strong enough. Even the most confident might begin to doubt their body is ready to be exposed to the world. And if you have been working on weight loss or improving fitness, whatever progress that's been made is quickly forgotten when the focus is on how far from "summer ready" you are. Many end up dreading the season that should be filled with fun!
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About The Author

Ellen Goldman Ellen Goldman
Ellen Goldman has bachelor's and master's degrees in health and physical education. An AFAA-certified personal trainer and certified wellness coach, she is also the founder EnerG Coaching, LLC. Through one-on-one and group sessions, Ellen helps individuals make positive lifestyle changes, lose weight, manage stress and attain work-life balance. Visit her at

Member Comments

  • "Beliefs are just opinions we develop loyalty to." Love it! - 7/24/2013 9:13:49 AM

  • For those looking try www.swimsuitsfora
    They have a huge selection and reasonable prices especially when on sale.
    Every suit I own (and that's a lot) is from this site. Read the reviews because some do run small and reviewers will tell it like it is. - 6/17/2013 9:08:33 PM
  • I like wearing black. It's sexy and cool. I don't look at clothes thinking "oh yeah, this will make me look thin". - 6/16/2013 4:08:56 PM
    why bare all when you can wear swiom wear that gives you lots of coverage options.
    I wear HydroChic swimwear. It looks like athletic wear but really is swimwear. I feel great and I do not feel exposed. It is light and very comfortable.
    - 5/18/2013 3:50:15 PM
    I agree with Juli 1154. - 5/8/2012 4:38:20 AM
  • I HATED the poll that accompanied the article! It implies that one's choice of swimsuit is entirely dictated by physical appearance, rather than comfort or utility. What a terrible message.

    I generally wear a one piece because I find it most comfortable for swimming and snorkeling, as well as for water aerobics. (I also like to keep my delicate midriff skin protected from the sun.) When I do find a 2-piece that works I don't hesitate to buy it but none of this has ANYTHING to do with how gorgeous - or otherwise - I consider my body to be. Shame on whoever devised the poll. - 2/18/2012 5:11:17 PM
    I used to feel uncomfortable about wearing a bathing suit in public, even though I was slim (5'7", 125 pounds) and in fairly good shape.

    Then, when I was almost 40, I decided to take up scuba diving. I love the sport, but I have to tell you, NO ONE looks good after they've been diving. They have compression marks on the their faces, matted and stringy hair, boogers coming out of their noses, goose bumps, lines from the wetsuit on their bodies, and usually bits of seaweed and sand smeared on exposed skin. And there are all kinds of bodies, of all ages, on the boat. No one cares about what they look like - they're just happy that their bodies took them to a magical place that few people see.

    The first time I went diving, I encountered sea lions that wanted to play with me while my instructor and I were waiting for the boat to pick us up. I looked great to the sea lions :) - 1/23/2012 9:49:46 PM
  • When I went on vacation last summer, I bought a new bathing suit so I could swim in the pool at the resort. I had lost 50 pounds and could just fit into a size 18 suit. I put on my shorts & t-shirt over it and headed down to the pool. I only made it by repeating: "I don't care what other people think" over and over. The commitment to exercise was stronger than my embarrassment at wearing a swim suit. - 6/1/2011 12:04:17 AM
  • Bathing suits are generally not created for larger women, at least up here in these parts. Even the suits in Penningtons, which is a store for larger women, are either very ugly or fit poorly. Plus they are expensive, talking over $100! If I was thin like in the old days, I would only pay around $25 for a suit, it's very wrong that someone in size 24 has to pay 4x more for an ugly bathing suit that doesn't fit properly. I am fortunate in that I swim mainly in rivers and lakes, so I can wear shorts and tank tops. If I go to a pool, on a rare occasion, I have an old suit that I throw a tshirt on top, as the straps slip off.

    I like that the article focuses on self-image and self-esteem. It is so true that attitude makes a difference. When my bathing suit was new it fit well. It is a "tiger" pattern one piece. I wore it in Vegas with my new boyfriend and he thought I was HOT. I was 250lbs. I felt self-conscious at first but that quickly changed, as he reminded me "if you think you are HOT you are H-O-T, HOT." He was right. I stood tall, proud and felt very beautiful in my bathing suit. I was overweight, I had problem areas but who cares? I had people smile when they saw me, guys gave me the looks over in a good way and hey, I was and still am HOT. It's all in how you present yourself to the world. That's why I loved this article, for focusing on that piece. :) - 5/31/2011 1:46:00 PM
  • This isn't much of an issue for me. I must like swimming enough not to care. I wish other women felt the same way (doesn't apply to men - I've seen many a walrus stuffed into a Speedo). The only caveat I offer is that you may have to go online to order a tasteful suit in your size (I did).
    - 5/31/2011 11:37:33 AM
  • If they actually made a bathing suit for ladies like me with large (touching) thighs, I wouldn't mind the season as much. Until I can find a cute pair of board shorts that aren't built for a boy body, I'll forever dread bathing suits. - 5/31/2011 11:15:59 AM
  • I have to say every time I get my hair cut I feel great, rejuvenated, like a fresh start. I probably let too much time pass between cuts and I'm going to work on that. If getting my hair cut improves my confidence and my weight loss, I guess I can sacrifice. ;) - 5/20/2011 7:32:09 AM