Thursday, July 30, 2009

One Size (Bikini) Fits All

I am spending this entire week in my bikini. This is not such a shocker, since I've been wearing my bikini(s) all summer long. But since this week will be spent seaside, it got me thinking about body image.

Okay, okay. Those who know me already know that body image is a big thing for me. A great deal of my work is helping people to have a better body image, and really get comfortable with it. It's taken me years to feel good about my own body, but the comfort I have now is freeing.

It wasn't always easy. As recently as a few years ago, I was obsessed with every inch of my body. I would grab parts of myself and blow raspberries into the air signifying my unhappiness with it. Real adult-like, I know. When I first did it in front of my boyfriend -- who I'd tell (about 30 times a day) 'I just want to lose ten pounds. Just this!' and grab at my waist or my thighs blowing raspberries  -- he laughed it off. But months later, he started to get sick of it. He loved me just as I was, and it irritated him that I was so rough with myself.

Recently, I was discussing body image with a colleague, and she made the greatest point I've ever heard. She said, "We are all just a bad accident away from being 'not beautiful.' Isn't it better to accept your body for what it is, and your appearance for what it is, and love yourself for who you are inside? Isn't that what really matters?" She's right. You don't love someone for their beauty, or lack thereof, you love someone for who they are inside, and how they make you feel when you are with them.

Still, tackling the external is important. If you aren't at ease with the outside, you focus on it. Let me challenge you to release yourself from being bound to any standard. It's so easy, too. Beauty is subjective. Though our society tends to have a certain type of cover girl (which, by the way, changes periodically - think Marilyn Monroe, followed by Twiggy; Cindy Crawford followed by Kate Moss), we personally tend to have our own preferences. To some, being curvaceous is a compliment, whereas others beam when being told that they are shrinking away to nothing. Some women want curves like Kim Kardashian, while others want a lithe body like Kate Hudson. 

The problem comes, I believe, when we think that we aren't meeting our own standards. While we can change our bodies to some degree though diet and exercise, we cannot turn a pear into an apple. What we can change is the way we view ourselves.

I think I look best in summer. I like being outside, getting my vitamin D. The sun completely transforms my hair to a near platinum color. My feet are always in open-toed shoes, and I am most often wearing clothing that is not restrictive. I live in my beach cover-ups and bikinis. They don't cut into my body, creating unattractive bulges. And when I wear a bikini, though I may not be perfectly flat-abbed, I feel sexy. 

Kenny Zimlinghaus, radio personality on Cosmo Radio and stand-up comedian, has a bit airing on the radio. He talks about the ridiculous idea of a one piece. In his spiel, he informs that instead of hiding what a woman may want to hide, the one-piece actually accentuates it. I agree. I think that most women, regardless of what size they are, look better in a (well-fitting) bikini than they do a one-piece.

Starting today, decide to love yourself for all that you are. Love your extra few pounds, or your twig skinny legs. You don't have to be perfect (because, really, who is?), you just have to be good enough.

Tiffany Palisi is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, Lifestyle Fitness Coach, and Group Fitness Instructor. She has extensive training in Pre- and Post-Natal Fitness, and is a Johnny G certified Spinning Instructor. She trains women in their home, and will be doing Lifestyle Fitness Coaching in her home office (and by telephone) beginning in September. Palisi works exclusively with women.

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