DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m 30 years old, and I've always been really insecure about my body. During the summer, my friends and I have pool parties and beach days. All of my friends wear bikinis, even though not all of them have perfect bodies. I admire and envy their confidence; I simply don’t have it. I am so insecure about my body that I have not put on a swimsuit since my teens. I'm afraid that I'm spending my best years being defeated by my own insecurities. I would love to get into the pool, and I would love to go to the beach. I don't want to stand in my own way. How can I take the steps towards accepting myself for who I am? -- Summer Body
DEAR SUMMER BODY: Because this is a deep-seated issue for you, you may want to get some professional counseling to help you sort through your insecurities. Body image is an issue for many women and men. Believe me, it comes up a lot as we inch closer to summer.
Apart from counseling, here are some other things you can try. Get comfortable looking at your body in the mirror. Stand in your underwear in front of the mirror and look at yourself head to toe, front to back. As you look at yourself, say, “I love you just the way you are.” Repeat it like a chant. Offer love to yourself. Welcome your full self as you are. Do this every day, and after a while, you will begin to believe it.
Now, invest in a bathing suit. It can be a one-piece. It can even be a bathing suit with swim shorts. Find something that you feel comfortable in. Then drum up the courage this summer to go for it. Trust that your friends will support you. Choose to be free and to have fun.