The last time I felt the sting of a belly flop, my belly was considerably smaller.
Recently I noticed a friend jumping off the diving board at our town pool. She is petite, blond, pretty and in great shape. We are about the same age, but you wouldn’t know it to look at us. She must have jumped off the diving board at least 10 times. She looked so cute up there – well, she always looks cute – smiling in her little tankini. I wished I could do the same.
Now I am not physically incapacitated. Nothing prevents me from climbing the steps and jumping off the diving board, but there is the matter of my weight. I am overweight, imaginary reader friends. My weight is the highest it has ever been (not counting pregnancy).
I wear a slimming bathing suit/girdle underneath my cover-up/tarp (which I rarely remove). And I spend most of my pool time in a chair so I don’t have to imagine people smirking at my ample derriere and, if I am honest, my ample everything else. I realize that people are not actually fixated on me – I left high school quite some time ago, thank you – but I am ashamed of my body, especially in a bathing suit.
The thought of walking over to the diving board sans tarp is bad enough. But to climb to the top, walk to the edge and then jump, jiggling all the way down, dowsing the poor souls on the pool deck with gallons of water, to say nothing of the hasty underwater reinserting of body parts into bathing suit, seems like too much…exposure. Ridiculous, I know. It’s not like I am trying to pick up the lifeguard at this stage in my life. But I am embarrassed.
It’s more than that though. Deep within me, I think I believe that being overweight forfeits my right to be seen or to be proud. Not only am I ashamed of the weight, but I believe that I ought to be ashamed, that being ashamed is the right thing to do. How sick is that? I know this belief is bat-shit crazy but it feels like truth.
Well, f— that.
Today I went off the diving board three times. The first time I was pretty timid – not much bounce and I held my nose like a toddler. Then I did a cannonball (no comments please). The last time I really punched the diving board to get some height.
It was fun and it made my six-year-old really happy. It’s crazy to miss out on fun with her just because I have bought into screwed-up beliefs about weight.
I’d like to say I feel silly for being nervous about a diving board, but I don’t. It was hard for me to walk up there, and I know that the next time I emerge from the cover-up I will be uncomfortable. But I will try to stop hiding and instead own the space I inhabit, if not with pride then at least with a sense of entitlement.
Maybe next time I’ll even try a dive.