I put myself through this exercise because I am self-conscious about my body, and for a week, I will be prancing around in public in a bathing suit.
And every year, I survey the public from behind my dark glasses, safe and semi-hiding in my beach chair, to see what I'm up against.
I see every single type of body out there, some with lopsided proportions and some with perfect, god-like proportions, and with every configuration you could think of.
I see big bodies, small bodies, compact bodies, long bodies, short bodies, bodies with ugly tattoos and ones with beautiful, intricate ones. Pierced ears and bellybuttons, eyebrows and lips. Tiny baby bodies and chubby children’s bodies, skinny kid bodies and saggy elderly bodies. Round bellies, flat bellies, bellies that look like they might burst, bellies that hang over shorts, bare ones with defined musculature and bare ones without. Big round bellybuttons that stick out. Small pinhole bellybuttons. Flat, deep ones. Pumpkin butts, pancake butts. Brown skin, tan skin, pink skin, pale freckled skin, painfully sunburned skin. Peeling skin. Wrinkled skin. Smooth skin. Arms and legs with bandaids and casts. Thick discolored toenails. Beautiful pedicured pink toenails with white stripes across the tops. Thin women with thick ankles. Round women with skinny legs. Blond, black, brown, orange and pink hair. Dreadlocks on young boys, dreadlocks on old women. Necks strewn with gold chains and earlobes studded with diamonds and holding up dangling hoops. Old and young wrists circled with delicate bracelets and bulky athlete’s watches. Made up faces and faces bare except for white marks where sunglasses rested earlier.
The combinations are endless, and not one of those bodies is better or worse than my own, all just different.
I sit in my chair and observe these people who don’t seem too preoccupied with themselves to enjoy the beach.
And I get up from my chair, walk toward the ocean in front of all of them, and try my hardest not to care either.
Someday, maybe I won’t.