Whilst under water tonight, I had an epiphany. As my hands pressed against the water and my arms took great strides to pull myself through the chlorine charged atmosphere, I could feel the water moving around my body perfectly. I have felt it before, of course; I feel it every time I swim. But today, I realized why I like swimming so much, why I so often want to do it, why there is such a passion within me to do it…
When I am swimming, I feel such uncommon gratitude for my body.
Now, I know that might sound weird to you if you’re a guy… but most girls have a lot of trouble being grateful for their bodies. We grow up pressured to look a certain way, to dress a certain way, to move a certain way. Don’t get me wrong, I love my red hair and freckles, but I don’t see many girls in Hollywood with them.
I have, at times, categorized myself as a classic beauty, as opposed to a modern beauty. Let me explain this. The categories of beauty are like architecture: modern, colonial, Victorian, gothic, and cardboard boxes. Modern beauties are those skinny, chic, small, mostly blonde girls. They are the girls who, when they lose weight, actually can buy small clothes. I’m a classic, because I’m somewhere between crazy English nobility and early settlers. My people come from a long line of barbarians; and we all have the body type to prove it. I will never be small. I am tall. And big-boned. And I inherited this strange invention called hips. My shoe size is somewhere between “sasquatch” and “clown”. I just won’t ever be little or delicate or pretty like that.
It’s so hard, when you’re a girl, to find a place you belong when you aren’t a modern beauty in a modern civilization. You feel like yesterday’s style on the clearance rack, while the newer clothes go flying off to new homes without you. Let’s face it; that’s all the world is selling right now. So you feel awkward. And you look at yourself in the mirror and… feel awkward. And maybe you just ignore your body. And maybe you just don’t take care of it. Or maybe you end up somewhere in the middle where you would like to appreciate it, but what’s the point because you’ll never quite look the way that you want?
When I swim… something changes for me. Everything works together. Everything comes together. My arms and my legs and my core: they make sense. My body moves the way I want it to, a way that it was meant to. It gets me somewhere. I feel strong. I feel good.
Swimming is one of the few places in my life where I don’t feel like my body is a mistake or like my beauty is distant or unapparent.
I feel like I am something beautiful, and I am so incredibly grateful to be me.