I’m graduating 8th grade next week! YAAAAAAAAYYYY!
As part of my school’s celebration of the graduation, my grade went to a local lake for the day. The lake was surrounded by a forest and a sandy beach. You could spend the day hiking in the woods, going rowboating, playing beach volleyball, soccer, or frisbee, chilling on the beach, and, of course, swimming.
This story involves multiple different people, so, to avoid confusion and to protect their identities, I will refer to them with different names and numbers based on my relationship with each person.
A few days beforehand, I bought a new bathing suit at the mall. Friend 1 and I were going shopping, and she told me that it looked adorable on me. Friend 1 was allowed to say that because she is exactly two months older than me and one grade ahead of me in school.
Here is a picture of my new bathing suit:
Anyway, I took a shower the night before the trip to the lake. I don’t know about you, but whenever I take a shower, I get into a weird, thoughtful mindset. I think about everything that is going on in my life, the past, the present, the future, et cetera. On that particular night, I was thinking a lot about the trip to the lake, what with it being the next day, and my thoughts wandered back to my new swimsuit. And I had a brutal realization:
“All of the other girls will be wearing tiny bikinis and I will be the only one in a floral zip-up one piece suit and silver goggles. They’ll all stare at me and whisper about me and call me names and spread rumors behind my back.”
I had a mental panic attack, and decided not to even pack my swimsuit in my bag. I was NOT going swimming the next day.
The next day, we arrived at the lake. Everyone put down their belongings and changed into their swimsuits.
Multiply this picture by 35, and that is what all of the other girls in my grade looked like:
So, I went on a hike with Friend 2, and we got lost! We had to ask a random lifeguard for directions. It was so embarrassing, but so much fun. I love hiking. It was a long, tiring trail, but we made it back. I also made sand sculptures with Friend 3 and Friend 4, but they collapsed quickly due to the coarse-grained sand.
After lunch, Friends 3 and 4 decided to draw pictures of their surroundings. Friend 2 decided to go swimming, as did my other friend, Friend 5, and everyone else in our grade. Friend 6 had the complete collection of Jane Austen novels in one volume, so she was reading that the entire afternoon. I finished the book I was reading, and spent the rest of the afternoon scrolling through my iPod.
All the while, I looked at how much fun my classmates were having in the water. I kind of wished I had gone swimming, but I knew the scene that would go down.
Me: *jumps in water to take deep end test*
Enemy 1 (whispering): Oh my God, why isn’t Maisie wearing a bikini?
Enemy 2: She’s committing social suicide.
Enemy 3: And look at those dorky goggles! Who wears goggles when swimming?
Enemy 4: She’s such a [censored].
Enemy 5: I know, right? What an outcast.
Me (overhearing all of these things): *sniffles a bit* Lifeguard, I’m feeling a bit sick. Can I get out?
Lifeguard: Sure, get some rest. It was a good effort.
As I walk back to my towel, I overhear Enemies 1 through 5 tittering at me and whispering some more.
*On the bus ride home*
Me: *hears all of the girls in my grade whispering*
Enemy 6: psssssst psssssst weirdo pssssst one piece pssssst…
Enemy 7: psssssst psssssst I know right pssssst pssssst…
Me: *puts in headphones, listens to music, and tries to swallow the basketball-sized lump in my throat*
The problem is, the other girls in my grade were able to wear bikinis and not get laughed at. I personally prefer to wear one-pieces; I feel more comfortable in them, and they’re easier to swim in.
Friend 2 is a boy, and he was a bit nervous about swimming shirtless, but then he did it and nobody laughed at him. Nobody even gave him a second glance because all of the boys were doing the same thing.
In our society, there is lots of pressure on girls and women to wear revealing swimsuits, and because of that pressure, many girls have started swimming less often, myself included. I used to love swimming when I was younger because I could wear whatever bathing suit I wanted and I wouldn’t get ridiculed for it, and nobody cared if I wore a one-piece suit anyways. I love the feeling of the water on my skin, and I love doing handstands and tricks underwater. I love the cool sensation that washes over me and tingles down my spine when I plunge into the pool on a hot summer day.
I still swim with my family and close friends every once in a while, or when I’m at a hotel or the beach or a place where no one recognizes me.
And now, just because of my choice to wear one-piece bathing suits as opposed to bikinis, I can’t enjoy swimming all the time like I used to as a little girl. It’s saddening to see a summer tradition I used to love get ruined by societal pressure on adolescent girls.
It seems like the semi-aquatic mammal I used to be has gone into hibernation.
I wish things were different.