Confidence? Or indifference ??

Why has the concept of self-love been equated with wearing a bikini to the beach?

Who decides that self-love should be measured by what a woman wears?

Are we really naïve enough to believe that when an obese woman dons clothes that society says she’s too big to wear, her years of self-hate will suddenly dissolve and she’ll begin loving herself?

Putting on a bikini will not undo the mental harm that was done to a woman that makes it hard for her to love herself.

Even with top-notch psychotherapy, a transformation of self-depreciation to self-love can take months on end to start showing.

It just can’t be as easy as slipping on a bikini.

Self-Love Is Important

We all should have this. Many women and men don’t. Some people outright detest themselves, and they come in all sizes.

You can’t fix this by deciding to wear a bikini from now on. All that will do is make it feel routine to wear a bikini in public.

But inside you will still be battling sadness, lack of confidence or other demons that have plagued you for years.

The converse is also true: A woman can have self-love but still feel aghast at the idea of wearing a bikini in public, or even a one-piece swimsuit, shorts or a tank top.

“I don’t need to bear my middle and thighs to be confident!”

This isn’t the same as body dysmorphic disorder, in which a person focuses on a specific body part and imagines it’s so flawed that when they go out in public, they think people are staring at and talking about it – such as their nose, upper lip or calves.

I’m referring to the normal, basic vanity that most human beings possess.

There is nothing wrong with being self-conscious to the point that you cover yourself up at the beach or swimming pool.

  • I wonder how many bopo influencers won’t leave the house until their face and eyes are perfectly made up and every hair in place.
  • How many would never wear shorts in public with hairy legs? Hmmm, isn’t that interesting?

If a woman refuses to bear her legs in public unless they’re silky smooth and every hair has been shaved down, why don’t bopo influencers bring up the issue of self-love?

Bopo’ers will never preach, “Ditch the makeup! Society says women must wear makeup. Well eff that beauty standard!”

It’s a totally whacked idea that self-love equates to how much of your body you expose in public.

“Self-love means doing what is right for your soul, acting in accordance with what is right for you, even if this means defying some societal standard,” says Patricia O’Gorman, PhD, clinical psychologist and author of  The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power.

“Self-love is not defined by being pressured into doing something that makes you uncomfortable, or being pressured in doing something you feel is wrong or shameful,” continues Dr. O’Gorman.

“This is more of an example of the outcome of acting on your ‘toxic girly thoughts’ than it is an example of self-love.”

What are toxic girly thoughts?

Out-of-shape men do not equate self-love with having the dare to flaunt their flabby, potbellied physique in swim trunks.

So why are more and more plus size women equating self-love with “finally working up the confidence” to buy, then wear, a two-piece swimsuit?

Dr. O’Gorman explains, “What do women do with being inundated with one very limited image of desirability? They internalize these messages and begin to judge themselves to see if they’re measuring up.

“Then when they find they’re not, they fault themselves, blame themselves, feel ugly, feeling less desirable — resulting in a negative inner dialogue that I’ve named as ‘toxic girly thoughts.’

“Being a sex object is one message sent out by the greater society.

“The result is that women are pressured to act more like dutiful little girls than the mature, independent person that most women would like to be seen as. In this way women are very dutiful; they’re being good citizens.

Feeling that one must wear a bikini, no matter how you feel that you look in it, is an example of this.”

So if a fat woman owns 48 bikinis and wears one every day in public, she must be oozing with self-love, correct?

And if a full-figured woman prefers one-pieces with swimwear cover-ups? Gee, she must hate herself, right?

So very wrong on both counts!

Look, if a plus size women intrinsically (not because she feels she must prove something to strangers) likes to wear skimpy clothes, then that’s one thing.

Thus, wearing the bikini, for some big women who’ve never cared what strangers think, is merely incidental. Not caring what strangers think about one’s body in swimwear is NOT a marker of self-love!

But it’s pretty insulting to modest plus-size women to hear that they must not love themselves just because they prefer more conservative attire. Let’s end this madness.

Dr. O’Gorman is an internationally recognized speaker, a consulting psychologist in upstate New York and the author of eight books including Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenting. She’s a regular blogger at The Powerful Woman.Net.  Learn more at patriciaogorman.com.