I’ve been following Alyssa’s #jetsetter life as a Flight Attendant for some time now, and she is #travelgoals! I was so excited when she reached out with this submission for the blog. She is fierce, and to read this story makes that even more clear. I’m sure you will agree, she is inspiring and beautiful. AND CAN WE TALK ABOUT THAT PINK BIKINI?! -S
“When are you going to get rid of that fupa?”
It had been about four months since I last saw my friend. We were overdue for a catch up, so when our schedules and days off happened to align perfectly, we jumped at the chance to take an impromptu trip to Las Vegas to hang out and relax.
“You gained a lot of weight recently. You should really consider lipo.”
I sat on the couch frozen. We were just settling into our hotel room, the two bottles of wine I picked out for the occasion still in my bag. I could feel myself getting angry and wanting to cry, but for some reason, I could not react or respond. Instead, I just sat there, waiting for the moment to be over.
As I lay in bed that night, I inevitably started crying. I thought about how being fat throughout my life often meant being bullied and ostracized for my size. How unsolicited comments and “advice” from family members, friends, and strangers who disapproved of my body were part of my normal. The comments my friend made brought up the feelings of continued hate and shame I had for my body and for myself. I really didn’t want to care, but it’s all I could do.
Over the next few days, that moment would replay in my head, and everytime it did, I was angry. I was angry at my friend, but I was also angry with myself. Why, after all of these years, was I still giving power to the word fat? Why was I still allowing critiques from others about my body to determine my self-worth and to define my body image?
About a week later as I was getting ready for work, I looked at myself in the mirror for the first time since Vegas. I fully expected to see my reflection and tear myself apart, but instead I was focused on my face, in particularly my eyes. It was so intense that as cliche as it may sound, I truly felt like I was looking deep into my soul. I started thinking about me. My goals in life. The woman I wanted to be and the woman I was becoming. I did a mental check-in. How was I feeling? What could I improve on? I thought about the people in my life, the love I was surrounded by.
A couple of minutes passed by before I even looked at my body, but when I did, no unkind words or criticisms came to mind. No deciphering what needed to change or be fixed. Despite what I was told to hate about myself, I saw nothing to criticize. Not because I had suddenly deemed myself to be perfect, but because my perspective had shifted. For the first time in my life, I was able to see past my physical self, and could see me the person, beyond my size.
Fast forward a few months later to summer. I stopped into Target to pick up a few things, but in true Target fashion, I ended up wandering around the store. I didn’t need a new swimsuit, but I found myself by the new arrivals anyway.
And then I saw it.
It was a hot pink bikini, unlike anything I had ever owned or worn before. Sure, I had worn two-piece bathing suits in the past, but they were always the ones deemed “acceptable” and “appropriate” for a plus size woman: black, long top, and high waisted to show just a little sliver of skin because God forbid any more than that show. But this? THIS was a bikini. Cropped, scoop neck top, cute detailing, mid-rise cheeky bottoms. It needed to be mine. I grabbed my size and made my way to the fitting room.
I put the bikini on facing the wall, not out of shame, but because I wanted that big reveal moment you see on makeover shows. When I finally did look in the mirror, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I WAS IN A BIKINI! I don’t know how I didn’t make myself dizzy trying to get a glimpse of myself from every angle, but when I finally did stop all my twirling, I wanted to cry. Looking in the mirror, I didn’t see the “flaws” I had become so critical of myself for. Not my thighs, back rolls, or belly. I didn’t see myself under the stipulation of “in 20 pounds, it will look perfect.” All I saw was me. Happy and confident, in a bathing suit that I absolutely loved, ready to enjoy the summer ahead.
A week later, I had my first opportunity to wear my new bikini in none other than Las Vegas. Before heading out to The Strip, my friends and I made plans to hang out at the pool of our hotel for a bit first. (At the same hotel from a few months prior I might add…) As we got settled, I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience the moment before I removed my coverup. Was this really me? Was I really about to lay out by the pool, in Vegas, a size 16, in a hot pink bikini? YUP! I was really doing it. I removed my coverup and got comfortable on a lounge chair. This was my new normal. The thought of how far I’d come put me in a state of such pure bliss, I put my sunglasses on, and closed my eyes for a nap.
A few minutes in, I felt like someone was staring at me. I opened my eyes and sure enough there was a middle-aged woman staring at me from a few feet away with a scowl on her face. I knew that stare. It was one of disgust and silent disapproval. Disapproval, that had I been closer, would have been verbalized. I remembered how that stare and interactions like these made me feel in the past, and how it would have had me reaching for my coverup in shame, and heading back to my room to hide.
But that was then. Current me didn’t care anymore about being judged or ridiculed by anyone. I felt amazing in my bikini, in my skin, and that was all that mattered.
So while she continued to stare, I rolled over on to my stomach. Did I mention the ruching detail on the bottoms? Super cute.
It’s been a little over a year since fupagate, but since then, the way I see myself has taken a complete 180. Don’t get me wrong, I still have moments when my insecurities creep in and I don’t feel good enough and I want to blame my weight for everything that’s wrong. But with a lot of work (hello, self-care!) and introspection, the moments don’t last. I’ve put the feelings of hate and insecurity I once had for myself behind me, and instead have replaced them with unconditional love, kindness and acceptance. I may have gained weight, but in the end, I gained what truly mattered.
Want to save this for later? Check out Curves and a Carry On on Pinterest for this and much more!