Written by: CHRISSANN NICKEL
After spending the past decade in a swimsuit more days than not, I’ve come to a few conclusions. I’m not going to blow sunshine up your ass and tell you that I’m some magical unicorn of body confidence now, that living on an island has cured me of all my womanly insecurities, and that I never ever feel ashamed of the protruding pizza baby I’m stuck with after a night of indulging. That shit still bothers me sometimes. I still struggle with feeling ok in a swimsuit on certain days, there are still photos of me that make me cringe, but in general, with each Caribbean year that passes, I’m starting to celebrate little body image victories that this island life is teaching me.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
If you’re unhappy with what you see and how you feel, you have two basic choices.
Option 1: Make a change. Exercise for your health. Stop eating/drinking so much crap.
Option 2: Change your attitude. Accept yourself as you are. Shine your focus on what you love about yourself instead.
Either option is acceptable. Complaining all the time is not.
What you do in your bikini matters more than what you look like in it.
When I think about all of the days I have spent in a swimsuit around these islands, what comes to mind are the activities I did, the things I laughed about, and the friendships I made and strengthened – not how I looked in my bikini. I may have been feeling down before I left the house, deeming certain Sundays “bad body days”, but once I was out, that pointless stream of consciousness left my brain, the fun took over, and I focused on having a blast instead. Reflecting on it at the end of the day, never was there a time that I wished I had listened to the mean girl in my head telling me to stay home because she didn’t think I deserved to be seen in my bikini.
There is such a thing as Girlfriend Code when it comes to social media. Respect it.
We live in a time of pervasive camera-ing. If you enjoy going out with those groups of people that take 1,000+ staged photos throughout their boating day, then cheers to you. Personally, I hate having my picture taken and the stress of that takes away from my fun. But either way, having some photo memories of good times with friends are great – so long as everyone respects the Girlfriend Code. This means you ask your island sisters if it’s ok with them before you post any pictures of them in swimsuits to social media. This doesn’t have to be a big deal, just a quick check-in to make sure you know a girlfriend’s policy on swimsuit pics before you share. That way, everyone can relax and enjoy making photo memories knowing their preferences are being respected.
You cannot change your fundamental body type, so you may as well embrace it.
There is no amount of exercise in the world that is going to make my legs grow an extra 5 inches in length. Shocking discovery, right? Well, it was to me years ago. When I finally stopped trying to force my body into being shaped differently, I started appreciating the qualities about it that I liked instead. The nice thing about being in a place with people from all different backgrounds who are also wearing swimsuits year round is that you realize that we’re all shaped differently. There are pluses and minuses to all body types. Rock your pluses, fuck the minuses.
Talking about body insecurities is incredibly uninteresting conversation.
You see that group of women hanging out in the water? Laughing with cocktails in their hands and soaking up the Caribbean sunshine? Want to guess what they’re not talking about? That’s right – their bodies. Because literally no one wants to hear about what you don’t like about your body. Spoiler alert: it’s BORING AF! Not only does it seem a tad narcissistic, almost as though you’re fishing for compliments, but it also reminds the others to think about what they don’t like about their bodies. There are plenty of other compelling things to talk about – learn to choose those.
There’s a reason they’re called, “tourist drinks”.
It’s no secret that we islanders tend to imbibe a *wee* bit more than our counterparts in other locales. But unless you want to gain the Newbie 20 (like the Freshman 15, but much harder to lose since you’re a grown-up now and aging is cruel), leave the creamy, sugary concoctions for the tourists and special desserts – you’re not on vacation, baby. Bikinis don’t lie – you will notice your excess Bushwacker-ing faster than you can say, “Add a floater, please.”
Beauty is a soul quality not a physical quality.
I know, I know. This may sound trite like something your grandma used to tell you, the old, real beauty comes from the inside spiel. Go ahead and roll your eyes. But you know what? Grandma knew her shit. If I ask myself, Who are the most stunning women on the beach?, the women that come to mind don’t necessarily look like your run of the mill VS catalog showpieces. And you know what? There are a few women around here that I’ve met over the years that at first glance, took my breath away. I’ve never seen anyone so pretty in real life, her body is unbelievable, I thought to myself. But once I got to know some of them, they most definitely do not come to mind now when I think of beautiful people. Confident, funny, and kind are the qualities that make women knockouts in bikinis. And that’s the gospel truth.
Trends are bullshit.
Just because all of the magazines are saying this season’s look is the Brazilian thong bikini doesn’t mean you have to wedge one up your butt crack. If that style doesn’t flatter your shape, take the time to find ones that do. When you’re in a swimsuit year round, it pays to try on a bunch of different ones until you finally find a few go-to suits that in them, you feel like the bombshell that you are. You wouldn’t live in the Alps without a properly sized pair of snow boots, would you?
Every woman (and man, for that matter) has insecurities about her body, even the ones you think are “perfect”.
I had friends of friends visiting awhile back and I couldn’t help but notice that one of the women looked like she could have posed for Sports Illustrated while lounging on our boat. At dinner, we got to talking and she mentioned how much she hated being in a swimsuit, doesn’t generally choose beach destinations for vacation as a result, hadn’t eaten properly in weeks,and worked out like a crazy person before this trip. I nearly choked. This girl doesn’t like being in a swimsuit?! How does she think the rest of us do it then?
Further proof of this: time. Do you ever look back on photos of your younger self and wish you could have that body back? The one that, all those years ago, you had the nerve to complain about and criticize? Yeah. The struggle is real. We’re all in this together and no one is perfect.
Wearing a bikini year round is a privilege.
If you’re wearing a bikini year round, it means you live somewhere that’s warm enough every month on the calendar to do so. And you’re by a body of water that you can swim in. Rejoice! You made it to the Promised Land – the Land of Forever Summer. Stop worrying about the bikini part. Your life is fucking awesome. Now go to the beach already, will ya?