The Vulnerability Challenge

#TheVulnerabilityChallenge: Swimming without a bikini body (Day 20)

bikini body
Hayley Stanton
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Hayley Stanton

Director & Coach at Quiet Connections
Hayley shares her personal stories of feeling shy, socially anxious, ‘not good enough’ and fearfully avoiding the good things in life. Growing her confidence through coaching, gradually stretching her comfort zone and connecting with others, she now uses everything she has learned to help other people grow their confidence in her role as a coach. Hayley is passionate about connecting people with similar stories and creating safe, supportive spaces to make friends and try new things. Hayley dreams of a time when all of the strengths, skills and goodness in ‘quiet’ is recognised and appreciated as readily as being bold, gregarious, and comfortable in the spotlight is right now.
Hayley Stanton
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#TheVulnerabilityChallenge Day 20

When body image keeps you from swimming

This photo was taken at the end of my NLP Practitioner course with Lizzi at Going Coastal. As the business name suggests, Lizzi’s practise revolves around the coast and I spent many hours coaching against the beautiful backdrop of Perranporth beach. As someone who enjoys the sea every day, Lizzi naturally wanted us to end our time together with a swim. I hadn’t been swimming, or even in the sea, for ten years or more.

I always felt like swimming wasn’t really a choice for me. If I didn’t have a bikini body, then I couldn’t bare my skin and go for a swim. No one needed to see my rolls! Even as a size 8 teenager, I would rarely go to the beach. When I did, I sat on the sand in my jeans, afraid to be seen.

But, the theme of Lizzi’s training was ‘have a go’ and I intended to do just that. I didn’t own a swimming costume, but I thought ‘it must be easy enough to find one’. I’d buy something from the supermarket on my way to the course early the next day.

I knew exactly what I wanted: a tankini with shorts. It had to be this. Nothing else would cover up my jiggly thighs with their stretch marks and the rolls on my tummy. I’d piled on the pounds in recent years, I had to cover up!

Imagine my panic when I get to the store and I can’t find a tankini. All I see are standard swimming costumes – and they certainly won’t cover my stretch marks – and then there are shorts as part of a bikini set – and those will leave my flabby belly exposed!!!

I waste time searching and searching, hoping to miraculously find just the right tankini set – the one I imagined in my head. As time grows short, I have a quick decision to make – do I show my jiggly thighs and my stretch marks or put my flabby midriff on display?! It’s one or the other, I’ve committed to this…

I run to my car owning my first bikini.

The sea doesn’t mind that I’m not a size 8. The world doesn’t end and I don’t feel ashamed. I hear no comments on my wobbly bits and I see no looks of judgement. Calm washes over me as I enjoy the cool waves. Was it really worth being so afraid?

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