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How can I wear a bathing suit when I am fat?

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I have had numerous comments and questions about the bathing suit issue. So many of you have asked me how I can be brave enough to wear a bathing suit at my weight. Others have told me they could never do it. Some people have told me how much they wish they could do it, but they can't because of how they look.

I am in the (bottom of the) morbidly obese category. Three times a week I go to the community center of my town and get into the pool. It is not hard.

The suit I have is in three pieces. It has a tankini top that I tuck into boy shorts. Under the shorts is a tummy control brief that may not do any good, but it makes me feel better not to be jiggling around so much. It cost about $45 for all the pieces at Target this year.

I would like to look better in this bathing suit, or any bathing suit, but I don’t. But more importantly, I want to feel better and be able to do more things and not be in pain. One way to do that is to take my overweight self to the pool and do the arthritis swim class. I’m a work in progress, and I can’t progress unless I work it.

Do I worry about what the other people at the pool think when they see me in a bathing suit?


No one cares.


The hot guys and girls swimming laps don’t even see me. I am off their radar screen. The others in my swim class are as grateful as I am to be in the pool and not in pain that none of us cares what the other looks like. The people in the Water Aerobics class before me come in all shapes and sizes, leaning towards the large.

If I have to worry about teenagers being grossed out, then I'm done for. But guess what. They are very self involved, and don't care about me anyway.

I live in Southern California. It is a very thin and beautiful place. I could worry about a lot of things.

-My hair is not streaked and flowing (and there’s some grey).
-My teeth are not blindingly white.
-I have a double chin.
-I don’t have a cool car.
-I don’t have designer clothes, sunglasses or purses.

Time will pass if you get in the pool or not. You are missing out on so much if you don't do this. One of my cherished memories is my time in Mom and Tot swim class with my 1 year old son. I have one photo of that time. An overweight friend saw it and said, "How could you have done that?" I say, "Thank God that I did that".

I was worrying about the really ugly sun hat I wear during class. It is so ugly I can’t even describe it. This was the only hat that was a remote possibility for me. I was in a huge rush to get the suit, flip flops and the hat before the class started in April. I have to have a hat because I will fry under that California sun as my head bobs along during class. But this thing is just horrendous, and I was feeling kind of bad about it.

Recently, I was re-packing my bag for the pool and I popped the hat on to show my now 16 year old son. He said, “Oh my God, Mom. That’s the coolest hat ever. I can’t believe you’re wearing that to the pool”.

Please don’t worry about what you look like when you work out. Just put your blinders and your determination on. You can do this. You will feel so much better working out than you do worrying about how you might look if you did work out.
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    This story is awesome and so inspiring. I am (lol lied about my age on registering) 16, and im a sophmore in highschool. Im currently 200 pounds, but you would never guess because im so tall. I have been in desperate need of loosing weight, and my mom signed me up for swimming classes to help me loose weight. The swimming classes are held at a facility directly next to my highschool, and I am terrified that Im going to see someone I know there and they will make fun of me. My mom explained to me that they wont care, and if anything just remember that while I can loose weight, they are stuck being meen people. Rhis story truely inspires me to follow kn the pursuit if getting back into swimming and doing what I need to to get into shape again. Thank you so much for posting this!!!
    1131 days ago
    HELP! I mean wow- this helps.

    I've saved & scrimped determined to join a gym that has a pool. I'm 120 lbs overweight with arthritis & fibromyalgia & I've been told for years now by doctors I should exercise in water. Well recently I got a sobering blood test which has me at borderline diabetes with high blood pressure as of yet not controlled by meds and high cholesterol: Wake up call! I MUST exercise! No way around it!

    So yesterday I stopped to get a bathing suit on my way to the gym to sign up. I felt enthusiastic to really be starting this finally! OK, like many others, I haven't worn one in years so I don't have one. I couldn't believe how hideous I looked! I got so depressed & discouraged I just went home & didn't even sign up for the gym at all. There is NO WAY I can appear like that in front on me, which was bad enough, let alone other people!!!!

    This morning, nagged by my health scare, I looked up online if anyone has this problem what they do about it and low & behold, good old Spark People and a link to this article appeared. I can't tell you how much better I feel now. I'm SO not alone! I'm really desperate, I need help. I need to exercise! Water is the way to at least start at my weight with my conditions I see no other way. You guys made me feel like it doesn't matter what other people think and many are in my position or have been & understand. Besides, am I gonna let the possibility someone will think I'm fat keep me from having LIFE & feeling good & maybe not dying young??? It's absolutely ridiculous when J think of it like that!! Now I think I can brave it, thanks to all of you and especially the author of this article. THANK YOU THANK THANK YOU!! I really do want to be here long enough to see some grandchildren :) and maybe meet a good guy. And I gotta start somewhere!

    Now, I do have one suggestion: for those of us whose thighs are rub (and so uncomfortably get stuck together when wet!) and it's so uncomfortable when they rub!! Years back (the elastic is all bad now) I got this bright idea and it worked! And was way more comfortable than what they sell for bathing suit bottoms. I put a tankini top together with some matching solid color spandex work out shorts, they come a bit farther down the thigh & keep them from rubbing, and the material looks & dries like bathing suit material. I got it in a dark color you couldn't see through & it was much more comfortable! After what I saw yesterday, I think I'll go that route again & cover the tops of those things! Also, if you're large chested like me, some of those work out tops are tight enough to hold you in on top without the worry of popping out of the suit which is a problem for me.

    Thanks to all who shared on this topic. You renewed my hope & determination!

    Peace & love-liz
    1508 days ago
    I too am in a water aerobics class and you are definitely correct -- no one else cares about how look in the bathing suit!! By doing the exercises you are doing the right thing for you, AND you get to see your progress as your swimsuits get smaller and you become happier.

    GOOD FOR YOU!! Keep up the wonderful work! emoticon
    2516 days ago
    Such. A. Great. Post.

    When I was (significantly) heavier than I am now, I used to worry about what people thought about me ALL the time when I was at the gym (which was rarely, for that reason). Then one day I heard the quote, "When you are in your 20's, you worry what everyone thinks about you. When you are in your 40's you don't care what anyone thinks about you. When you are in your 60's, you realize no one is thinking about you at all." Somehow I just decided right then to make the leap to the 60's mentality, and it has proven to be SO true. I'm all wrapped up in Me-Ville, and I know everyone else is too.

    But I'll tell you something else. Sometimes, when I'm at the park running, I'll pass someone who is heavy and struggling with their walk / bike ride / roller blades / whatever. I can sense their self-consciousness, and sometimes even embarassment (especially if it's a younger person), and I just want to stop them and say "I am so PROUD of you for doing what you're doing. You are AMAZING. Keep up the great work!"

    To the folks who are too afraid to put themselves out there for fear of being judged, you never know what those fit people used to look like! Why not assume they are mentally commending you for the total awesomeness of your efforts? Because they just might be.
    2545 days ago
    Thank you for this blog! I am in so much pain walking. I love to swim but felt like i am to gross to be seen in a swim suit. But i want to go swimming at the gym so bad. Next month i am going to rejoin and put on the suit and go to water classes. thank you.
    2556 days ago
    Good for you!!! I totally agree with your attitude and I think it is very healthy. I do put on a bathing suit because I love the water and I don't care what anyone else thinks about how I look.
    2601 days ago
    OMG this a totally awesome read thank you so much for your faith and courage and the awesome read I teared up to this one.....great wishes for you on your continued journey...

    doesn't matter how slow you go as long as you don't stop....Confucius
    2611 days ago
    Thank you for this!!! And Good for you!!!
    I did aquasize for 5 yrs. at a rehab. place. I loved it!!! I had to quit cause my DH lost his job! That was 2 1/2 yrs. ago and I've not been back. He was out of work almost of that time, just found a job right before Christmas, not a great pay, no benefits etc., but it's a job. He is still looking for something with a decent pay and benefits.
    When he does find something, I plan on checking out another place to do water exercise.
    Were in North East Ohio, so it will be inside, for obvious reasons !!! Right now it is only 32 out and yesterday we had 1~3 inches of snow. We broke a record low a couple nights ago of 14 degrees!!!
    Water exercise is the best for you, no pressure on the joints!!!
    If you love the water, you'd love it!!!
    Thanks for the reminders !!!
    Love ya', Flutterfli emoticon
    2612 days ago
    Very Motivating!
    2696 days ago
  • RENEEH3067
    I like what was said. At times its so hard to take the step you need to so do the swimming.
    2711 days ago
    Great read, thanks so much for that.
    2737 days ago
    good for you for realizing it doesn't matter what people think. It is more important to worry about what you think of yourself and if you are unhappy then do something. And it is obvious you are doing something in a "really cool hat".Good luck to you!
    2751 days ago
    Years ago, I had lost a significant amount of weight and was working out regularly at a local women's gym. There was an obese womran who joined and was using the stationary bike. I so wanted to reach out to her and encourage her and tell her that I had been able to lose my weight and that she could, too, and that I was delighted she was here. I never said anything to her, because I wasn't sure at that time how to do it without making her feel self-conscious (I was in my 20's, and she was older). But I never once thought that she looked fat in her outfit. I certainly wasn't there to judge her, in fact I was dying to welcome her and offer positive reinforcement for doing so. Be active, folks. People won't think nasty things, they'll think, "Good for her! I wish her great success."
    2758 days ago
    What a great attitude. I don't care for water sports unless you count fishing, but the inherent good sense of your comments are far reaching.. Sure made me stop and think about some of things I put pressure on myself about that are basically nonsense emoticon . Thanks for putting a new spin on some old worries.
    2765 days ago
    Sounds like a healthy attitude to have about what is important to you. I like your attitude---More important to feel good about exercising/losing/feeling good than bad about your body or what your body may or may not appear like to other people. Keep on keeping on. emoticon emoticon
    2766 days ago
    You go girl! Thank you for the inspiration and keep up the good work! emoticon
    2796 days ago
    Good for you! Just keep up the good work and one day you will look great in a new swimsuit! You are so right, do it for yourself, not others!
    2810 days ago
    You are so cool :)
    2821 days ago
    Good for you and thank you for writing this blog. It's very inspirational and true. I'm sure you've helped several people start thinking about getting out there as they are, at least!
    2822 days ago
  • ARAC76
    I just read this blog and loved it! I came to the same realization this past summer for myself...who cares! I was tired of missing out, so I just went for it. And really, no one cared!
    2826 days ago
    Awesome way to think! I need to adopt this when getting in my bathing suit:)
    2829 days ago
    I used to work in a fitness center and every time I signed up a new member, everyone was concerned about how they looked and how everybody would be looking at them! Trust me, no one is thinking about how you look, they are all thinking about themselves, LOL!!
    2832 days ago
    Sigh, you have more courage than I do...
    2832 days ago
  • 3189PINKY
    You should be so proud that you have the courage to do what you want to do Your blog let a lot of us feel so much better about what we should be thinking and doing. Not sitting home worrying about nothing. Good Luck Girl and like your son said " Your Hot Mom" Enjoy... Pinky3189
    2833 days ago
    Well, so glad to see that you have the same thoughts that I do! I try to get to my health club but with work/family it's a hard thing to do. I love the fact that you think like me..we are not there to impress but to take care of ourselves! Keep up the great work and the beautiful "mindset"! emoticon
    2834 days ago
    Thank you for writing this!!!!I had to get in a swimsuit last weekend because we were invited to a pool party. My son can't swim even though he's had lessons, hand eye coordination issues. I had to get in the pool with him. I was so embarrassed for the first 5 minutes, then I had a great time with my son! He's invited to another pool party this weekend and I'm as excited as he is!
    2835 days ago
    I really enjoyed this post. I often struggle with "what will others think" on how I look. My issue is sleeveless shirts. Because of flabby upper arms. I have secretly been looking at the larger ladies that do wear them and had almost convinced myself I could do it and along comes this post. You are right. Everyone who matters won't care and what does it matter about those that I do not know.

    I'm gonna get one this week as a reward to myself for the weight I have worked so hard to lose and in memory of your post. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! emoticon
    2837 days ago
    Yes yes yes, we gotta see the hat! Brava to you, you are so right about this! Enjoy the rest of your summer and pool time! emoticon
    2837 days ago
    What a beautiful post! I take water aerobics year around and the only people that get looks are the people who wear bikinis during an exercise class and they cant keep the bottoms up or the tops on LOL emoticon . Keep doing it, you dont know whos watching you and who you are insipiring!
    2837 days ago
  • OWEN69
    confident and full determination are very important.we need to practice from ourselves.we dont need anybody to make us somebody.always bear on our mind,exercise is not only for outside looks,its helpful in so many ways can make us to be happy and change our mood,mentally,physically,emotionall
    y. emoticon
    2838 days ago
    I just want to commend you for making a healthy life choice! We sometimes think it matters more what others think than what we really think ourselves. You made a choice to be healthy, good for you. Should someone be offended by how you dress, that is their judgement and only serves to show that they are someone who needs to judge. There is no reflection on you. It is so nice to see someone who is getting their life together and you are an inspiration to all, not just for weight loss but in all areas of life.
    2839 days ago
    This came at a great time for me. My son turned 6 this summer and had never been in a pool. I have lost 30 pounds but am no where near where I would like to be to be seen in a swimsuit in public. I decided to get over myself and for my son's sake I bought a swimsuit and have taken him swimming 4 times now. I thought I could get more exercise in if I took my son swimming and that helped me get the courage to try it out. You are so right, no one really cares. There are people at the pool who are much smaller and ones who are larger than me. I do not feel embarassed like I thought I would. One thing I noticed is that the skinny people sit in the hot tub, watching their kids swim and the larger ladies, including me, are splashing around, swimming and enjoying ourselves with our kids. I guess I am the type that just needs to move more, I wasn't blessed with a great figure, but I have accepted that. One more thing, as I was in my bedroom trying on my suit to see if I could really go out in public, my son came in and said "Mom! You look HOT!" That is all I needed to get out and just do it.
    2840 days ago
    I feel beautiful in a bathing suit. I love to be in the water, I love the feeling of a snug outfit on my yes very curvy body. It's the only thing I don't feel self conscious in, even though it shows every bulge, and doesn't come close to covering most of them. Maybe it's because my glasses are on shore, maybe because it means I'm moving and exercising, but it has been true for a long time, and I realize I feel fat in exercise clothes, self conscious in most other clothes, but get me a bathing suit, and I'm a bathing beauty!
    2840 days ago
    great post, hope I remember it the next time I go out in public with my bathing suit on. Thanks.
    2840 days ago
    I recently went on holiday to Turkey and there are some very large ladies and gentlemen there, who without a care in the world, don on their swimwear and get in the water. All they do is enjoy themselves and cool off. nobody takes any notice and almost look at them proudly. As if to say good on you. They exersize up and down the water and enjoy every minute. Then get dried and off they go.
    They are the ones who are enjoying themselves and getting fit at the same time.
    It makes you realise that you are doing it because you want to enjoy your life. emoticon
    2841 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/14/2010 5:32:27 PM
    Ooooh - to have that confidence is marvelous. We are our own worse critics and many don't see us as looking nearly as bad as we judge ourselves to be.

    Please, please, please share a picture of the hat!!

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2841 days ago
    Thank you for your post. I went to my 20th high school reunion last week and worried myself sick over not being the size I wanted to be, but then I decided that it didn't matter. My friends love me anyway and the ones that care about my size are not my friends.
    I would also love to see a picture of that hat!! emoticon
    2841 days ago
  • M0PPET
    Can you please post a picture of the hat?? I'm dying to see it!
    2841 days ago
  • ZOEIE1956
    You have the right focus and the right attitude. emoticon
    2842 days ago
    WOW, what a great blog. Your attitude is right on and I say I can't wait for the day when you show up and all heads turn because you look fabulous in a skimpy little suit.

    I too do not care what other people think about me in a swimsuit or in work-out clothes.

    Family pictures used to be a problem because I'm the largest family member and I never liked having my picture taken. Then I realized pictures of my grandkids were always with someone else. I made a decision then that I did not want my grandkids looking back and saying "where was Grandma".
    2842 days ago
    What a great attitude, I am hoping to get there one day. The best thing about this site is everyone is always positive and willing to share their experiences. I agree that we need to see the hat. emoticon
    2842 days ago
    This is so inspiring because I have thought about this for the last three years. What looks ok? Should I wear what my friends are wearing or what's "in"??? Should I make myself look awesome in bright colors that show my flaws or hide in a bath suit?? These questions and more have made me realize through this blog that I need to be me and be happy with who I am and how I look! Very inspirational blog!
    2842 days ago
    Great words of encouragement! I have this summer
    reached this point too...I bought a new bathing suit for the first time
    in many years AND wore it! Life's too short to waste by being
    so self conscious. Hard yes, but go for it and have fun!

    2843 days ago
  • SMARTIN0181
    I totally agree!!! I don't work out in the pool but I do work out in the gym. It is summer and very hot outside and inside. I do work out everyday, and wear shorts. But, lol, I don't shave everyday, I go to the gym when I look good or a hot mess! THe weight does not come off if you wait for days that you happen to look good. Thanks for this blog! emoticon
    2843 days ago
  • RODRIGUEZ41508
    More Power to You for not caring about what others think. Your health is the priority here and feeling Great about yourself is all that maters emoticon
    2843 days ago
    I totally agree.
    I too go to the pool 2 - 3 times per week.
    I go with a group of people who are the less than shapely.
    We may have been a little apprehensive at first, but soon we forgot about looks and now we concentrate on exercise.
    I'm so grateful to God to be able to move around and feel better.
    2843 days ago
  • GERTRUDE1953
    Have you ever noticed that when a new person comes into the pool and you check them out to see if they have the perfect body, then realize you are not alone? After seeing that I am not the only one that has a big, not perfect body, you will start to relax about it and really start enjoying yourself more. And most of them don't even seem to notice they are large, too. They have the same apprehensions you did on your first day.
    2843 days ago
    Thanks for sharing this. I think a lot of people need to hear this. So many stop living waiting to be thin. My sister hasn't gone in her pool all summer because her next door neighbour makes comments about her weight. He's an idiot. And so is she for allowing him to have that power. I swim in my pool and if people don't like it, too bad I'm swimming anyway.
    2844 days ago
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