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Bye Bye Bathing Suit Blues

What is it about the thought of putting on a bathing suit that creates such a flood of obsessive and self-conscious thoughts and feelings? Just looking at one can cause panic to rise, and self-confidence to dip.

With this article’s tips on overcoming self-consciousness, we challenge you to do away with those bathing-suit blues this summer, and start feeling more comfortable in your swimwear.

So-long self-consciousness

Self-consciousness can stop a lot of fun in its tracks, whether it’s on the dance floor, at the beach, or elsewhere.

You know how it goes… when you go to put on that bathing suit, feelings of embarrassment, self-loathing, and shame all rush to the surface, leaving you longing for winter. Now maybe you don’t have the perfect beach body, but we’ll bet it’s not that bad! While some of your self-consciousness might be based on real issues, a lot of it is likely irrational and – because you are probably your own worst critic – highly exaggerated. No one else would spot that extra crinkle of cellulite that resides ¼ inch below and 30 degrees to the right of your left kneecap! They’re far more likely to be looking enviously at the good parts of you.

Next time you feel a wave of self-consciousness coming on, whether you’re in a bathing suit or not, stop and ask yourself if you’re being overly critical. Then focus on the things about your appearance that you like, just as others do.

No one else is looking (quite so hard)

Are you too critical?

The thought that “others are watching and judging” can blow your self-consciousness out of proportion. Controlling this thought is a key to getting self-consciousness under control. Next time you start to feel that all eyes are on you, just take a step back. How realistic is this perception? Is everyone really staring at you and judging you? Are you that interesting?!

The fact is, tall or short, skinny or plump, in shape or out-of-shape, most women are self-conscious – and nine out of ten of them are self-conscious in a bathing suit. So do the other eight out of ten women really look like Godzilla? Or are they, like you, just too darn self-conscious or preoccupied with outer appearances? How about looking on the bright side of the statistics: If so many women are so worried about how they look, then they’re not really looking at you!

That takes care of the women, but what about the other half of the population? Won’t the men ridicule or judge you? Actually ladies, men are generally more likely to be ogling supermodel types than criticizing those of us who aren’t a perfect size 2. And as for that extra crinkle of cellulite that resides ¼ inch below and 30 degrees to the right of your left kneecap? “What’s cellulite again?” is their most likely response.

Remember, you are your own worst critic, but that doesn’t mean everyone else has to be: Keep your oversized ogle-goggles to yourself!

Tips for taming self-consciousness

What you do with self-consciousness is up to you; ultimately, you decide how you are going to perceive yourself. And whether it’s a “my-hips-are-too-big,” a “my-butt-wobbles,” or a “my-legs-are-like-chicken-legs” criticism, there are several ways to get the belittling under control. You can:

  • Challenge the self-talk that perpetuates your self-consciousness. Is everybody really looking at and poking fun at you? Are you really that visible in the grand scheme of others’ lives? Are your thighs the worst that anyone can imagine?
  • Develop an awareness of your own filters, both the ones that obscure your good points and the ones that exaggerate your less-than-perfect points.
  • Be realistic: So what if you’re not a flawless super model? Guess what, without airbrushing neither are they!
  • Act your age. If you are comparing yourself to the way you used to look when you were 20, don’t (unless you’re 21!). Learn to fit the body you have now.
  • Take action to change what you can. If you’ve been overeating and under-exercising and it shows, start making some changes. You can eat more wisely and exercise more.
  • Accept what you can’t change. Bone structure, age, skin tone – these things are yours for keeps. Learn to accept them and focus on those things you can change.

Back to the bathing suit

With all these ideas of how to manage self-consciousness under your belt (or should we say bikini) let’s think about the practical side of getting into your bathing suit.

When shopping for a bathing suit, choose a comfortable and flattering bathing suit in the right size that doesn’t accentuate those areas that are most worrisome for you. And when you’re trying on different suits, make a conscious effort to focus on what you like about your body instead of focusing on what you dislike.

Finally, remember that – after a comfortable bathing suit – the most important thing to wear to the beach is a good attitude. Don’t dwell on the fact that the itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, yellow polka-dot bikini is not for you. You look better in what you’ve chosen – enjoy it!

Co-written by Anna Delany

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