Last week I ventured to the waterpark for my 11 year-old’s birthday. My weight has long been something that I have struggled with and wearing a bathing suit in public is a lesson in shame for me each time. For many years I did not wear a suit outside of my own backyard as I was so sure that I would be laughed at. This day, however, I was determined to slip on my swimsuit and be a part of my daughter’s special day.
I am a perpetual people-watcher and always seem to spy what others miss. That day was no different. Halfway through our day, I found myself on a lounger watching with one eye while my daughters and niece played on a play area and with my other eye on the adults around me. I noticed in particular what I have deemed the ‘Corner Club’, which was a large group of mothers who seated themselves at the corner of the pool to best see everyone and spent the day not in the water with their children but on loungers making fun of other mothers that weren’t deemed up to their standards. I have noticed this same club with different members at many pools and waterparks over the years, an older version of the same club that once existed inside the hallways of high schools all over the world.
I noticed was that I was I was invisible in my conservative swimsuit. No one seemed to notice me, the chubby Mama in the skirted polka dot suit who covered herself in a towel at all times not in the water. This was a great relief for me. I shame myself enough and to add the shame of others seemed unbearable. I fear that my self-esteem isn’t always great enough to weather criticism by other mothers.
What I also noticed is that those women who are also in the not-so-thin club with me that did not choose a conservative swimsuit were not so lucky. I watched multiple women in bikinis and other smaller suits as they were stared down and laughed at, over and over again. The Corner Club seemed to relish each time that they shamed a fellow woman and that woman appeared saddened. I felt sick to my stomach watching this spectacle.
After watching for a day I noticed a set of rules for fellow thick Mamas from this ‘Corner Club’.
1)Buy a bathing suit that covers as much of your body as possible. If a full body suit is available(a giant muumuu perhaps?), this is your best shot at not being body shamed.
* 2)Immediately after leaving the water, cover yourself in a large towel or swimsuit cover-up. Head to toe coverage is best.
3)Do not appear too confident. Head should be down at all times so that the world knows that you are full of shame for your imperfect body.
4) Do not be in the presence of attractive men. The thin and perfect mothers around you should be the only women to have such people in their vicinity.
5)Do not eat anything but vegetables and drink water alone. After all, you can just live off the fat of your body and deserve no joy from food.
If you follow all of these rules, you are (possibly) safe from being shamed while you enjoy your day at the pool with your children and will be ignored by the perfect mother’s clubs that have gathered together in groups where they have the best vantage point to take everyone in and judge as needed.
My rules for chubby moms going to the pool with their children:
1 1) Wear whatever suit you feel fucking fantastic in. I prefer a conservative suit with a skirt that hides my bum. If you feel amazing in a bikini, please wear that bikini with pride—you look beautiful in it.
2 2) Cover yourself up if you want or don’t if wish not too. You’re at the pool so soak up the sun and water, no need to cover yourself up all day.
3 3) Be confident. Strut your body—the body that allows you to enjoy this day with your children, the body that may have created those same children inside you and fed them as infants.
4 4) If you happen to be in the presence of an attractive man, especially if this man is your husband or partner, I suggest a healthy amount of public affection to remind the women in the Corner Club that he is yours. Multiple times, if needed.
5 5) Eat and drink whatever you want. What you put in your body is nobody’s business but yours. This day is yours to enjoy with your children and no one has the right to make you feel badly.
I will no longer be silent when I watch other women be shamed. I am tired of being silent so that I will not also get the wrath of these vultures. We all deserve the right to be with our children without being shamed. Damn all of the “rules” that the world wants us to follow.
I’m off to the pool again, Loves, with my children in tow. I’m still wearing my skirted suit, but plan to wear it with pride. I will hold my head up for I have no reason to be ashamed. My body is my business, not the business of the mothers who live to shame others. I plan on greeting the other members of the Chubby Moms’ Club with exuberant compliments on their choice of suits, because they look incredible in their own skin doing what they love—spending time with their children, haters be damned.