At my son’s swimming lesson last week, we met his new swimming instructor, a teenage girl with blonde hair and long legs and a face that spelled uncertainty.
Parents sit on chairs behind a glassed-in pool and watch the various lessons happening at the same time; most of the swim teachers are in the pool with the kids, but since P is in stoke development, his teachers spend most of the time pacing the pool, watching the kids from above and commenting on their stroke form after a length of the pool.
P’s new instructor does not look entirely comfortable in her own skin and I just wanted to reach through the glass and give her a hug. I wanted to tell her: “you are beautiful, you are skinnier than you think you are, you are brave for choosing an after school job that requires a bathing suit uniform, for walking back and forth in front of all of these parents and all of the other teachers, most of whom are muscular teenage boys.”
And in a way, I was telling my own teenage self that I was enough, that I was always skinnier than I thought I was, and even if that wasn’t the truth, my body was the shape and size of the majority of American women, and that comparing myself to others would never be a good idea. I would tell my teenage self to wear that bathing suit, to wear those shorts, because a beach body is the body you live in.