Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot...

November 29, 2011
“Have you seen how terrible she looks in that... thing?” And so the rumors begin. The word spreads like wildfire from Facebook comments to texts to whispers in the hallway. Within moments, a fragile girl’s self esteem is crushed in the hands of her peers. The cause of this social downward spiral is one simple concept: a bathing suit. Although a bathing suit may seem like a trivial article of clothing, it truly is a source of stress to many young women.

A simple bathing suit is a primary cause of self-consciousness among teenagers. This insecurity stems primarily from what teens imagine they “should” look like, as seen in Hollywood’s magazines. If you were to walk down a magazine aisle, you would see at least five different front covers of models in bikinis. The problem is that the majority of these snapshots have been altered through methods such as airbrushing; these women are not real people with real bodies. They appear flawless; therefore, these girls automatically compare themselves and strive to achieve a similar physique. Through the attempt to duplicate a model’s body, some girls may change their lifestyles to fit into that dream bathing suit.

Because a bathing suit is the highlight of many girls’ summers, it is an incentive for teens to diet with the intention of looking “good” in a swimsuit. Intentional dieting is effective under certain circumstances, such as trying to eat healthy. Yet many girls who attempt to fit into a yellow polka-dot bikini do not exercise this smart dieting; in many cases they simply cut out meals altogether. As more and more meals are skipped with the intention of looking slimmer, girls’ confidence has the adverse effect of what they expect. As the pounds may slip away, their self esteem plummets along with it. Young women begin to chase a dream and become obsessed with the scale. Two more pounds turns into five more, then ten. The “perfect body” that every girl wants is not realistic, but girls seem to find this sad reality out the hard way. This harmful dieting can lead to a wide variety of eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia; however, the greatest damage of these self destructive habits is to the girl’s self image. The pressure of trying to fit into a bathing suit fuels this unachievable desire to attain a flawless figure.

A bathing suit is a right of passage for young women, a milestone that must be overcome. Every young woman must experience not only the internal stress that is associated with a bathing suit, but also the external judgement from her peers. The effect of a traumatic bathing suit experience on a girl could ruin her confidence in social settings, such as that crucial first boy-girl swim party. For example, as awkward Cindy examines her reflection in the mirror, her heart sinks. She doesn’t look like a magazine; she doesn’t even look close to one of those front covers. Her stomach seems to be overflowing, while the suit’s cut is constricting her to the point that she is gasping for breath. With no other option, she quickly throws on a towel and slips out of the bathroom. Cindy feels like every single eye is on her, even her latest crush Jake seems to be looking at her in disgust. She holds back tears as she glances around and feels that every other girl looks perfect- everyone except her. Because young women think that they look repulsive, they distance themselves from both their friends and their surroundings. To be isolated from one’s group of friends creates stress, which a bathing suit can cause in these types of situations.

A bathing suit is common, so common that essentially everyone has worn it at one time. However, it is a much more complex concept than something that you use to swim. A bathing suit is a major factor in many young women’s lives in multiple ways. It is stumbled upon along the path of self discovery, because for many women it is a source of stress. It takes getting used to within your “own skin”, for every woman must deal with the terrifying stress that is a bathing suit. So those whispers in the hallway may happen for you, but don’t worry; everyone has felt judged in a bathing suit because that is what a bathing suit is: a mechanism of judgement.





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tavvie said...
Jan. 21, 2012 at 2:22 am
I really enjoyed reading this article. Sad, yet so true
 
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