Alone in a fitting room or in plain sight at the water’s edge, switching to a swimsuit is a tough time for the ego. It questions our self-confidence and our dependence on others.
It’s hard to believe, however, there was a time – in the 1970s – when wearing a bikini was an act of women’s liberation. You read correctly. Liberation! No alienation to her image, to ever more demanding socio-media standards, to the gaze of the other… At that time, it did not matter if the breasts did not grow, if the belly did not resemble that of a marathon runner or if the buttocks had nothing Brazilian.
The clothes fall… our morale too
Alas, other times, other mores, now the Bikini has to be earned. It is most often obtained after having done tough preparatory classes based on diets, slimming massages or bikram yoga. Needless to say, in our ultra-narcissistic culture that values performance, slack and fl or are obviously not popular. Hence the almost hypnotic recurrence of women’s magazines which, from April to June, take on the theme of “the bathing suit test” in every possible way. It must be said, in their defense, that it is indeed a test. Of those that hurt our ego. And no one escapes it: the proud and the casual will spend the same bad quarter of an hour in the fitting room as the others. This is also the only moment of equality.
Lose weight and reconcile with yourself by Michèle Freud This guide effectively combines analysis and exercises. Edition enriched with an audio CD (Albin Michel).
Under the pale neon light, the shock is always harsh, confirms Catherine Blanc, sexologist and psychoanalyst. “The clothes that camouflaged, held, drew the silhouette fall and leave us facing a body in its reality, also testifying to the way we treat it. This brutality of the look on oneself is of course not objective, it is shaped by the esteem that one has of oneself and the comparisons, more or less conscious, and always in our disadvantage, that the media images encourage us to TO DO. »
Sophie, 41, notary and great sportswoman, admits to seeing only her flaws in the mirror. “My stocky calves, my too soft breasts. In those moments, I forget that I’m rather thin and that my girlfriends envy my muscular buttocks. Claudia Gaulé, Gestalt therapist, trainer and supervisor at the Paris School of Gestalt (EPG), explains this negative amnesia by the complex nature of the representation that each person has of herself, which has no objective reality. “Neither one-dimensional nor fixed, it is actually made up of several self-images that are developed from the feeling of self and the gaze of the other”, she specifies.
Are you comfortable in a swimsuit?
When she tries on a swimsuit, Manon, 36, hears her mother’s voice: “Tuck in your stomach, stand up straight! She confides: “And it’s nothing compared to what I imagine as reflections on my thighs or my breasts when I get up to go swimming with my surfer husband, thin and built like a god! »
The beach, the new court
If imperfections, real or imagined, miraculously dissolve under the gaze of love, they can become very painful under the gaze of complete strangers. “Hell is other people”, wrote Sartre, but isn’t it rather what we imagine from their gaze? “It all depends on his personal capital of confidence, observes Catherine Blanc. The more important it is, the less we will be dependent on the gaze of the other, and the less we will imagine the judging, disapproving or mocking eye. I receive absolutely magnificent young women who, however, go through hell despite having a perfect physique! That said, even if everything depends on each person’s story, it must be recognized that the aesthetic criteria of our culture totally distort the way we look at ourselves. »
Isabelle Queval, a philosopher specializing in contemporary representations of the body, observes that the high-performance silhouette – slim, firm, young – is more than ever the ideal representation. “Clothing is acquired, but the body is conquered, and with great struggle. Our culture is lipophobic, the hatred of fat is everywhere, masked by discourses on health, illustrated in advertising or fashion by a dry, athletic thinness. Nothing surprising in the fact that the one who finds herself facing her mother’s body, her feminine forms feels disqualified even before having set foot on the sand. »
Isabelle Queval, author of body today (Gallimard, “Folio essays”).
The joy of bodies, with or without rolls
Last summer, Sabine, 37, had the click that seriously put her complexes on the back burner: “We were having a picnic with friends next to Italian holidaymakers. There were about ten of them, laughing, talking loudly and playing silly games. All the women were plump and in colorful bikinis, and yet they were in their forties. They exuded so much joie de vivre and sensuality that our husbands had trouble concentrating on their pansbagnats! That day, I had the almost physical conviction that this was the real thing. The truth of bodies, their beauty, is not the perfection of forms, but the vitality they exude. The next day, I ditched my preppy one-piece for a Hawaiian two-piece! »
Claudia Gaulé holds the same speech. “Visualizing yourself on the beach not as on a podium, but as in a place of pleasure, of freedom, then living it this way when you are there, leaving your mind, that is what liberates in depth! Instead of lamenting your thigh circumference or your abdominal bulges, if you got into the habit of regularly taking a break, just to feel, and say to yourself “I’m savoring this unique moment that will never come back”, then you would live your body in a different way. It remains to soften his gaze on himself. An exercise within everyone’s reach.
4 exercises to love yourself (finally) in a swimsuit