September 2009, small town Iowa
I’ve always dreaded pool parties and summer camps and hot tub hangs for one very specific reason. I have to be seen in a swimsuit by people whose opinions matter to me.
So, when in college, my friends and I were invited over to another friend’s parent’s house to have dinner and sit in the hot tub, I was uncomfortable before I even stepped in the door. I was frustrated and disappointed in myself. I still feel this way as a college student? I thought this was a puberty thing.
Other women with this fear will recognize this familiar routine:
I changed into my swimsuit in the bathroom after dinner. I looked in the mirror at the straps digging into my shoulders. I twisted around to see how much back fat was pushing over the strap on the back. And I pulled the bottom of my suit to cover as much of my fluffy rear as was physically possible. Even though my swimsuit fit perfectly fine, it was not good enough.
I tied my towel — the extra big one, so I could be certain it wouldn’t fall off — around my waist tightly. I shuffled through the too brightly-lit kitchen and dining room. I slipped through the sliding door, thankful that the mix of the dark night and bright house cast a not-too-bright-and-even-possibly-flattering light onto the patio.
I stood on the steps to the hot tub to be as close as possible, so when I undid my towel, I could get in the hot tub as quickly as possible without anyone really noticing how chubby I’d become in the first three years of college.
I stepped into the prickly hot water to enjoy funny, interesting conversation and Two Truths and A Lie with some of the best friends I’ve had.
And the whole time, I dreaded getting out.
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