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Updated! I wore a bikini and the world didn't crumble

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More To Love teaches plus size women how to learn body-acceptance and end dieting for good. 

Updated! I wore a bikini and the world didn't crumble

Rachel Estapa


The More To Love Class returns January 2015! 


Remember the show on MTV Made? It took ordinary young adults with big dreams, usually which were the total opposite of their current life, and helped them achieve it. Like the drama girl who dreamed of making cheer squad. The shy boy who wanted to build up courage to ask his long-time crush to the prom. Or the girly-girly who thought it would be awesome to learn how to snowboard.

Through coaches and experts training the young adults, Made usually made good on the promise to help them reach their goals while learning valuable personal lessons along the way. I liked the show and thought it was full of feel-gooderly (for the most part).

And I totally wanted to be on Made myself. What would be MY goal? To wear a bikini in public. 

I spent a good portion of my life wondering what the hell I was doing wrong when it came to weight loss. In grade school, I was consistently a great student, captain of the JV soccer team, and was solo-singing constantly in church and in school plays. In college, all A’s with a full-time job, internship at a prestigious political figures office, and still had enough energy to be with friends whilst writing a massively complex senior thesis. I excelled in nearly everything else in my life, EXCEPT in how to lose weight. 

All those achievements were dimmed by my biggest failure of all: I was the chubby, albeit smart and funny, girl. And I hated it. I wanted nothing more than to wear whatever I wanted without fear of relentlessly thinking “Do I look TERRIBLE in this?” I wanted to feel pretty and thought my body-type wouldn't allow for it.

See, I’ve been there done that with weight loss. To me, it was easier to write a 75 page thesis on nuclear weapons policy than it was to keep weight off my body. “It’s gotta be MY FAULT!” over and over, years upon years.

So when people assume fat people are lazy for not figuring it out, I wish I could prove just how much MORE energy I spent on trying to become smaller, more than I did on all of my other activities COMBINED. And only a fat person knows what I'm talking about. 

It wasn't until a diagnosis of a hormonal disorder called poly-cystic ovarian syndrome helped make sense of the puzzle more, as both weight gain AND difficulty losing weight is a key factor to the condition. But that only factored in a little -- I had to learn what my self-worth was about instead of what my body-size dictated. 

If you meet me today, you’d scratch your head in wonder trying to understand how a lack of self-confidence ruled a huge part of my life. In my youth, I hid it really well (mainly through being an over-achiever!) but just under my thin-skin, lay a girl who wouldn't be caught dead in something form-fitting and certainly never a bikini! 

People ask me all the time: what was my breaking point? How did I learn to love my body and not just stop there, carve out a whole community of people who also want to feel better about themselves? And I reply with it wasn’t ONE moment, but a series of moments that all lead up to a defining question: Could I learn to love myself even if I never lost a single pound ever again?

Eventually through adopting body-acceptance I whittled down all the myths I built up around what my body meant, what it was capable of doing, and most of all, how I was hiding my body (and self) from the world. I never liked fashion mainly because shopping was torture, but when I decided to adorn the body I had today with clothing that fit it properly, well, I got WAY more excited. And when I stopped working out with the goal of weightloss, I actually went to the gym far more regularly, felt fitter and most of all, grew in strength and flexibility.

But in all honesty – ladies and gentleman, my body-type is chubby. Nothing magical or profound about it, nor horrendous or evil either. And that's where the acceptance really rang true. Now, I give a shrug, a smile and go happily on my way, because this ol’ gal is built this way. Why apologize for it?  

I have essentially done my own version of Made into someone who achieved peace with themselves and stopped thinking the good life was at the end of the weightless rainbow. And I pour those lessons in my More To Love Class to help other women learn how to love their bodies too. 

But one goal eluded me…..the bikini. Oh, the BIKINI! Did I really have the gall to wear one? To think I was allowed to wear one? Where would I even GET one? What will people THINK!?! Blah blah blah.

But this is the beauty of our body-acceptance movement…..when you seek out good stuff, the goods arrive. The fatkini, as it’s called, has made a huge splash lately, especially this past week. The internet and major news outlets shared photos of heavier women wearing two-pieces without a care in the world. Some people freaked-out, but most people thought it was awesome and inspiring.

I don't think the fatkini is really about fashion…it’s a statement that you’re allowed to feel beautiful at your size. And that message makes people feel good. 

So, earlier this summer I bought my own bikini and snapped a few photos, posted to my Instagram and earlier this month, participated in the #fatkini tag

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And then the moment of truth came: I was ready to publicly be seen with a bikini at a popular beach. I took a deep breath and removed my clothing. Pause Pause......the world didn't stop turning. So like every other single beacj-goer there, I relaxed laying out in the sand, snapped a few photos, and felt a smile creep around my face.

I did it!  Maybe I should let MTV know about it…or maybe I’ll just keep smiling in the sand, looking adorable and breathing in the salt air with a breath of satisfaction for believing that I’m worthy of feeling and being beautiful. Finally.