I hope as you were scrolling down to this post you noticed the beautiful women in this picture above and you thought;
“Damn, they’re both so gorgeous and that’s such a good picture”
That’s what I thought when I took it at least.
I have always thought that as women, we are our own biggest critics. Especially for a place like Rio, where going to the beach is built into everyday society, I imagine I was not alone in feeling a bit of anxiety about body image before coming here. The thought of going to the beach at home, if too abrupt, was unwelcome because of my own insecurities about my “imperfections” and unnecessary worrying about how I might be perceived by others. Lots of this, admittedly, was mixed into teenage angst and as I get older, I realize how fruitless it was. Regardless of this however, I still had that postcard image of women in Brazilian bikinis looking fabulous before I arrived, and it made me nervous. How was I going to compare to these women who looked like they were born with perfectly bronzed bums and still enjoy one of the best things Rio had to offer?
The answer, cultural assimilation!
My first time on the beach here I was stunned to find literally every shape and size out on the sand getting some sun in whatever amount of coverage they felt comfortable in! There were women large and small, short and tall, young and old, curvy and straight strutting their stuff all over Copacabana with no shame. There was no fear from them, no need for them to immediately hop into their cover up the second they weren’t in the water, and no palpable insecurity rolling off them like the waves. And it’s not just women either, men showed the same dignity and pride in themselves as they rocked their speedo in and out of the water!
I was stunned! Here I was, so used to the idea that once you reached a certain age or size, you agreed to the unwritten rule of covering yourself up at the beach, condemning yourself to social norms and the idea that you were less than. Brazilian people have confidence! Even if people talk about them, this doesn’t seem to detour them away from continuing to strut their stuff, or in any way implying that they need to cover themselves more.
This whole mindset has in turn, given me more confidence personally.
By surrounding myself with this culture, I have come to celebrate the differences in bodies instead of judging them (and let me tell you, it’s oh so freeing)! I am now able to let go of the invisible chains that were holding me back from accepting myself and I’m now able to show more love to others by celebrating them! By me naturally accepting myself more, I am also able to help others by also being less critical. The power of this concept is so beautiful and I am ashamed that it has not reached the US. Men and women everywhere need to be built up and encouraged to let go of their own invisible chains they keep themselves tied with and instead let go to actually enjoy life!
This change will not come just by me wishing on it, but is a part of an entire social movement to celebrate bodies and humans in their entirety. Let’s spread more love people!