D Sharon Pruitt

When summer rolls around and bathing suit season kicks in a lot of us start feeling anxious, self-conscious, and unhappy with our bodies. In a society filled with super skinny models, constant PhotoShopping and unrealistic expectations it’s difficult for teens to feel comfortable in their own skin.

We tend to pick out our flaws, critique our figures, and compare ourselves to our peers, models, and even strangers we see walking around at the beach! So wearing a bathing suit in public, around boys and girls, and next to your friends can sometimes be intimidating because of our tendency to focus on our flaws rather than embracing our individual beauty. And the thing is – I get it…

As an overweight teenager it was extremely difficult and unsettling for me to wear a two-piece bathing suit each summer. I wanted to fit in with all of my friends and not be the only girl in a one-piece, so I chose to feel uncomfortable and insecure in my bikini whether it flattered by body shape or not. Looking back I remember keeping on my cover-ups, wrapping a towel around myself immediately after coming out of the water, and hiding my body in any way I could. Rather than changing my style and wearing what I wanted to wear, I was fixated on fitting in with my petite friends and finding ways around my insecurities.

Unfortunately, I never broke out of my dissatisfaction with my body until I started to eat healthy and exercise. Although I didn’t start caring about my health until my senior year of high school, my self-confidence and pride in whom I am as an individual has grown tremendously since then. I have learned the importance of concentrating on how I am feeling rather than on my weight.

The most important lesson I have taught myself is to focus on feeling healthy, happy, and confident in myself. I have chosen not to let other people’s opinions or personal choices affect who I am and what I do.

There’s nothing wrong with showing a little skin as long as we are comfortable with doing so. Each one of us is beautiful in our own way. Diversity and difference are what make us all special and unique from one another. It does not matter whether you choose to wear a bikini, a tankini, or a one-piece bathing suit; what matters is that you feel comfortable and confident with yourself.

At 22 years old I am still guilty of comparing myself to other girls, and sometimes critiquing certain parts of my body that I wish were different – but I do not let it affect my self-confidence and happiness with myself. I choose to wear a two-piece bathing suit because I want to, not because I want to fit in. I know what it is like to feel scared, uncomfortable, and pressured to fit in with friends, but trying to be someone I wasn’t hurt more than accepting who I truly was – and the flaws that came with it.

One of my favorite quotes to remind myself is “those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Surround yourself with people who accept you for who you are and those who don’t make you feel pressured to do anything you don’t want to do. Love yourself and appreciate your individuality because you are beautiful. Just like me.

 

Jaime’s drive to educate youth about healthy living stems from her passion for nutrition and self-care. Recently Jaime graduated from the University of New Hampshire where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Family Studies with a minor in Nutritional Sciences. Jaime’s personal journey has motivated her to reach out to others and promote healthy behaviors and attitudes.

 

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