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The Fat Lady Swims

January 24, 2012

I love to swim.

When I was a kid in Southern California, summer days were spent moving back and forth between the beach and our backyard pool, with some sprinkler/Slip and Slide time in between. I still remember all of our pool games and how it felt to just float under the sun. I loved boogie boarding and going out over my head in the ocean because it seemed so dangerous. The tide would take me down the beach and I’d get out and look for my mom’s big red umbrella (and her, reading romance novels under it) and walk back to do it again.

I also swam competitively from the time I was 10 until I was 17. It’s safe to say that I spent a lot of my childhood in a swimsuit.I was thinking about this today at the gym. We joined this one specifically for its beautiful saline pools. One long lap pool and a smaller warm therapy pool. After lifting weights with my husband and a friend, we went in the therapy pool just to soak out the knots. My swimsuit is a two-piece that covers like a one piece when dry, but exposes my middle in the water. I love it. It’s comfortable and I think I look cute in it.

What’s really sad is that there were a lot of years where I would never have put on a swimsuit in public. No gym pools or water parks for me. I wonder if all of the people who did go swimming during those years are aware of the great sacrifice I made for them, protecting them from the site of me in a swimsuit.

I’ve got my share of body image issues that I work on every day. I’m really grateful that wearing a bathing suit at a public pool isn’t one of them anymore. Eventually, I realized it wasn’t my job to protect everyone else from the site of a fat lady in swimming attire. I just don’t care any more. I love to swim more than I care what anyone thinks about my body.

In the water, I feel graceful and competent in a way that I don’t always during dry land exercise.  My body floats beautifully. Especially in the salt water, which supports it even more, I move like a ballerina in the water. I don’t know if the site of a 330-pound woman in a swimsuit disgusts some of the other swimmers. It’s entirely possible that it might. But guess what? That’s their problem, not mine.

I kind of hope they’re too blinded by my awesome skillz to care what I’m wearing or how much I weigh.

I start school this week, which means adding five 400-level classes to my schedule. The gym is halfway between home and school, and I’m really looking forward to stopping by to get in the salt water, move, and do my water ballerina thing. Exercise is supposed to feel this good — inside and out.

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