Summer for the Insecure

Ah Summer: sunshine, kids out of school running amok (sometimes walking amok if they’re physical-activity-adverse), day drinking in the hot sun, and that guy who insists on wearing his shirt in the pool.

Feeling like a pig next to my friends

Summer represents social land mine hopscotch for people with body shame issues, being that most group activities are centered around bodies of water. As someone who avoids mirrors like Neo dodging bullets in the Matrix (the first one, let’s collectively forget the Ecstasy-fueled rave-nightmare of the sequels), I understand body-shame. But I also know that at any given public public congregation near water will lure people with train wreck bodies topped with embarrassing tattoos that make me look like I could pose for a swimsuit magazine. I’m here to assure you, people-who-wear-shirts-to-go-swimming, your body is not the most disturbing or shameful.

Yeah, John Favreau, no clue what's going on there.
Yeah, John Favreau, no clue what’s going on there. Definitely can’t see a cavernous belly button.

First, what do you think you’re accomplishing, person-who-wears-a-shirt-while-swimming? Here’s the best case scenario: “What? You’ve gained weight? I had no idea, you concealed it so well under that soaking wet, clinging dark shirt that highlights your saucer nipples.” A shirt in a water-situation is about as concealing of a body type as drugs are affective for concealing one’s own self-worth. We all see what’s going on. Wearing the shirt, however creates a worst-case-scenario thinking that’s probably much worse than the couple of extra pounds you think you’re camouflaging.

Of course there are other reasons: just lost a lot of weight and have some satchels of excess skin, stretch marks, birth marks in the shape of swastikas, tattoos of Bugs Bunny’s foray into racist propaganda, an outie bellybutton that resembles Steve Buscemi, moles in a constellation-like configuration of Bill Cosby holding a pill bottle, or maybe a thatch of hair on a tummy (good luck not being self-conscious of that now, people with a bit of belly hair).

But I assure you, person trying to hide their personal shame under a tiny layer of cotton, no one cares. If there’s any way I can empower you, people ashamed of their bodily quirks, it is this: the vast majority of people are so wrapped up, mummified in their own narcissism that they won’t notice you or whatever spotlight on your insecurity you feel exists. Maybe someone looks at you and has a cursory judgmental thought, but it is fleeting.Some-E-Cards-Body-Shame

The more you can stand up and own your body type, the more attractive you become. I was never more sexually attracted to Kathy Bates than when she tossed out her goodies in About Schmidt…that’s not true, she was super sexy in Misery, but the point is still valid.

Everybody is judging everybody else all the time, in such a way that they are trying to use that judgement to buoy their own self-worth. So, if you can shed the shirt, and confront people with your body type, you are really confronting people with their own insecurities.

You can do it, shirt-in-the-pool person, I believe in you…more than myself. Whatever you have going on can’t be worse than 90% of the tattoos that are out there on full display. Who knows, maybe someone will call you “brave.” Wear sunscreen, though.

use sunscreen
Use sunscreen or turn into human beef jerky. 


Add yours →

  1. To shirt or not to shirt. Tis not about modesty here in the land down under.
    I’m not a fan of sunburn, sunstroke or skin cancer so I do like a shirt in the pool.
    And when you get air under, the bubbles tickle


  2. This made me sad because I can’t remember the last time I went swimming.

    Or went out in the sun…

    Yes, I dwell in a moldy basement. Quit mildew-shaming.


  3. abeerfortheshower June 15, 2015 — 7:40 am

    It’s true, everyone is judging everyone no matter what you look like. I don’t like to boast, but I’m in the best shape of my life and I worked damn hard to achieve it. And if I walk around with my shirt off, I’m just the douchebag who’s trying to show off for the ladies. I don’t ever take off my shirt unless I have to, because I don’t want to be unfairly labeled as an unintelligent ‘bro.’

    So shed that shirt with pride, shirt-in-the-pool guy. We’re all being judged.


  4. That last picture would certainly encourage folks to use sunscreen! Thanks for the encouragement to just be.


  5. A propos of absolutely nothing, I quite like the design on that t-shirt Jon Favreau is wearing.


  6. I personally have no problem with going shirtless at the pool. Just so long as no one else it there. I usually go swimming during heavy rainy spells… at night.


  7. So you are saying keeping my coat on in the summer is not a good move then. . .. . . . . . . But this is Britain it is cold and wet out there.


  8. I don’t need summer to feel ashamed–and it’s not just my big ass and belly fat. I was raised to be ashamed. My mother ingrained it in me.



  9. People are so wrapped up, mummified in their own narcissism that they won’t notice you or whatever spotlight on your insecurity you feel exists… I had no idea. No, really. Would that include politicians and water wasting folks in Cali? No kidding. So what you’re saying is I could do the moonwalk butt naked and nobody would notice? That’s so depressing.


    • Oh, they’ll notice, but it would quickly turn from, “huh, that guy is moonwalking naked,” to “I wonder why I never learned how to moonwalk. Was MJ really a molester? Was it worth the molestation for all of the joy that great music gave to the world?”
      See what I mean by how quickly the judgement shifts away from you to the judgemental person’s own narcissism?


  10. At this age I shouldn’t really give a damn what people think, but it’s hard to shake off.


  11. Boyfriend suggests I wear a “summer burka.” After reading this post, I’m beginning to agree. Which isn’t exactly the takeaway I’m supposed to have, I know.


  12. I don’t care what some people say if you give a rats ass about your health you don’t go out in the sun and get so burnt you look like a cooked lobster.


    • Oh, yeah, totally agree. I saw a guy this weekend who I dubbed “the most sunburnt person on the planet.” He was wearing a tank top and was red as a lobster but still frolicking in the sun. He would repeatedly jump off of stone wall. Eventually, his tank top was shed as though he was more interested in having his sunburn be even above his general skin health.


  13. I’ve been to some “clothing optional” resorts, Pickleope Von Pickleope. What can I say? I’m a native Californian and lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for 19 years. But I was shy and wore my bathing suit at first. When I realized everyone was staring at me because I was the only one wearing a bathing suit, I took it off. They stopped staring. Mainly I was so self-conscious because I’m blindingly white. SPF 2000 or so helps for that.


  14. Ah yes, nice one. You do remind me of the prancing poolside posers, usually of the male variety, who have so much back hair that you wonder if they actually get a tan.

    Of course, being in England, don’t see too many folks parading there physical wares for all to admire.

    Gary, who refuses to wear a Speedo, just let the bollocks hang out, I reckon.


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