Dear younger self. I've seen many blogs written with that title. I've noticed the topic discussed among writers groups. I've heard many a country song lamenting over regrets of the past or by contrast, the risks they wished they'd taken.
Any adult can look back and say that there are things they wish they knew then that they know now. Some are minor. Some are huge. When I ask myself what I’d tell my teenage self, the first thing to come to mind is WEAR THE BIKINI!
It sounds like a frivolous piece of advice, but it's one that I truly needed to hear back then. I was always a skinny little kid. It continued through high school. I recall that I weighed 98 pounds when I started high school and I was still wearing size 12 and 14 in little girls' clothing.
I was 103 pounds when I graduated. And, believe it or not, I didn't like the way I looked. I certainly didn't feel like I wanted to show off my body in a two-piece bathing suit. And we’re talking the 1980’s, so it was the norm to wear huge button down tops, baggy pants and oversized t-shirts with timely slogans on them (and our hair was just as huge as our clothes.) I had an easy time disguising my inadequate body in layers of ill-fitted clothing.
All throughout high school, I was very self-conscious and didn't like the way I looked. So many times I looked in the mirror and honestly thought to myself, "I look fat" – even at a mere 100 pounds. Of course, 20 years after high school, I realize that I was not fat in the slightest and if I knew how far beyond 100 pounds I would get in later years, I would have had no problem getting myself to wear a bikini in public.
I do recall one two-piece that I owned, but it wasn't until after high school and only because my sister gave it to me. Besides, it was more like what we would today call a tankini. It didn't expose much stomach and I felt very uncomfortable the handful of times I did wear it.
My point is...back then I spent so much time feeling bad about my appearance and my body and there was no need for it. I looked perfectly fine. Today, there's no way I'd be caught dead in a bikini and I wish I'd taken the chance to wear one when I would have looked good in it.
Now that I feel more comfortable in my skin and can accept that I have a few rolls and stretch marks brought on by the living I've done and the babies I've carried, wearing a bikini isn't an option anymore. Send me off to a weight loss program at luxury spa with Jenny Craig and maybe - just maybe - I'd change my mind, but I don't foresee that happening. And I'm okay with it. I now realize that although appearance is important, it isn't everything. If people look at you and don't like what they see, it's usually their problem and not yours. And I really wish I would have had that attitude at 16.