happy teen
A beautiful sight

This article, written by Charlotte, originally appeared on her site, From T-Rex to Tigress, and has been republished with permission. Comments on this article have been disabled. To connect directly with Charlotte, please make comments on her original post

I had two beautiful sightings this week. One was my very first monarch butterfly sighting this summer on my evening walk. I love taking a walk after dinner some nights, while the evenings are still balmy and refreshing. I passed a bed of vibrant flowers, when a monarch gracefully floated and perched itself right on top of one of the flowers. I was lucky to get a photo. The second after I snapped, the butterfly was gone.

monarch butterfly

Another beautiful sight happened on Sunday afternoon. It was supposed to be a rest day, with just restorative yoga, but the weather was gorgeous and I had energy. I found it hard sitting still with my book, so I decided to lace up and go for a run. I also fit in some sprints up the train station stairwell. Sunday is the perfect day to do uphill stair sprints at the station because there are very few commuters, unlike during the weekday rush.

After my workout, I went to my condo gym to cool down with some stretches and water from the cooler. I was parched. From the large gym window, you can see the pool and it looked so inviting. I went out to the pool deck thinking about doing some relaxing on the lounge chairs later.

Two young girls, about 16 years of age to my estimation, were scrolling through a cellphone and standing by the pool. A song began playing through the phone. Call me an old-fogey, but I wasn’t sure what the song was. I think it was Taylor Swift’s The Game.

Both girls sang loudly and danced around the pool. Both girls had messy buns atop their heads that bopped side to side as they moved to the music. Both girls were laughing uncontrollably. Both were in teeny, weeny bikinis.

What was obvious to the eye was that one girl was petite (a size 2?) while the other was plus-sized. What was also obvious to the eye is that both girls looked happy. Very happy. Both looked comfortable and confident in their swimwear. Both displayed the same amount of carefree teenage frivolity.

I began to think about when I was that age. I was plagued with poor body image issues. In my 16-year-old head, only the size 2s or 4s of the world could wear a bikini. Only the 2s and 4s looked good in a bikini. Only those with slim thighs and flat stomachs should bikini shop. “How could a plus-sized person be happy in a bikini?” I would have wondered in my youthful naivete.

While my friends would bounce and dance to Culture Club at the beach, I always hid under the security of a towel. At my friend’s pool party one summer, I refused to get in the water without an over-sized T-Shirt, covering what I thought were the biggest thighs at the party. While my friends had fun in swim attire, and told me to “lose the T-Shirt” and just jump in, I shyly shook my head no, covering my legs by pulling down the T-Shirt. I was always promising myself when I lost the last 10 pounds, I would begin to have fun.

Guess what? Summers came and went, and that promise of fun never did come.

If I could go back in time, and tap my 16 year old self on the shoulder, I would have a long talk with myself. I would tell myself about this plus-sized girl by the pool on this hot Sunday afternoon. A girl with cellulite like me, a larger stomach than her friend’s, a girl that many would consider overweight, but most importantly, a girl with confidence, dancing without what looked like a care in the world.

No thigh gaps, six packs or bikini bridges required at their pool party. Confidence was the only requirement. What comes from within makes you want to sing out loud to Taylor Swift and laugh until you can’t stand up straight. Not thinking that you have to look a certain way to live your life and have fun, but enjoying the here and now while you can. Being free in your skin. This too was a beautiful sight.

“Sorry we’re so loud,” the smaller girl said, looking at me.

“No, that’s okay,” I said. “I’m not here to ruin your fun, girls. I’m just thinking I should change into my suit and join you!”

“You should!” she said. “Summer will be over before you know it.”

“Don’t I know it,” I replied.

“We only get to wear our bikinis for about two months,” the bigger girl said.

“You know what? You’re absolutely right,” I smiled, leaving the girls to go put on my suit and join the confidence party. My beautiful imperfections and all.

Because life is meant to be enjoyed now, before the seasons pass and we have to fly away. When we are finally free of our mental cocoons, we can experience how beautiful life can be.

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