Recently I went to the beach. Before going I told the friend I was travelling with about my trepidation to wear a bathing suit to the beach. The water isn’t really suitable for bathing in so most people just lay out on a towel. I figured I would be fine in a short dress. However, she encouraged me to put on a bathing suit and forget about what other people think. She reminded me that when she’s travelled to other parts of the world, people have no problem showing skin whether they are young, old, fat or skinny.

Her comment reminded me of an older woman I used to see in the locker room at my gym. This woman looked to be around 70 years old or so. Everyday she would emerge from the shower with a towel tied only around her waist. She sat on a chair and would blow dry her hair while topless. It made me giggle a little but at the same time I thought it was funny to see her juxtaposed with the younger woman in the locker room. Here was an older woman who had no problem letting it all hang out while the younger women with fit toned bodies carefully manoeuvred in an effort to ensure that no one saw an inch of their bodies.

It made me think that there is a kind of confidence that only comes with age. It reminded me of how I now wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self that I was not fat and that I should not feel ashamed of my body. I will never know what caused me to think of myself that way. Perhaps it was the cruelty of classmates who called me fat (unfortunately I believed them). Maybe it was reading Seventeen magazine and seeing stick thin girls held up as the ideal body type. Either way, I’m still struggling with acceptance especially because I am now larger than I have ever been. But I know my body and I love it for what it is.