I'd consider myself an "in-betweener" when it comes to size — not plus size, but not fit and toned, and definitely round around the edges ("apple-shaped," if we're using the fruit-size guide). I'm not especially self-conscious in clothes, but when I'm wearing a swimsuit, I hate everything about my body. All I see are doughy, jiggly bits.
That is, until I discovered Aerie one-piece swimsuits. I've known all about Aerie and its #AerieReal campaign for a while now, but I had never tried on the brand's swimsuits before this Summer. What inspired me to give them a try was an Instagram from one of my favorite body-positivity champions, Jenna Kutcher. She regularly posts photos of herself in Aerie swimsuits, with honest captions about her struggles with body image. I thought, if she can post photos of herself in a swimsuit for her thousands of followers to see, I can find a way to feel good in one as well.
I ordered a ruffly, textured, black one-piece with cutouts (sadly no longer available) that was sexy and flattering and comfortable — I couldn't believe how good I felt in it. After wearing it in public, I was even more confident; so much so, in fact, that I went back and bought two more swimsuits in different styles: an olive one with piping and flower cutouts ($28, originally $47), and a light-gray one with a very deep tie-up front ($27, originally $50).
For once, I was enjoying Summer to its fullest — paddle boarding, laying out by a pool, swimming in a lake — without covering my stomach, self-consciously wrapping a towel around my waist, or hiding in a cover-up. I wasn't even comparing myself to the other bodies around me. It's amazing the freedom you can have to think about other things, focus on relationships and self-care, and just generally feel happy without anxiety when you're not bogged down by self-consciousness. So thank you, Aerie, for making such a point to celebrate bodies of all sizes and for creating a swimsuit that makes me feel good about my body. I'm a fan for life!