My String Bikini

by Joanna D.

Here’s the deal. I came to the beach without a swimming suit. Thinking, bring as little as possible, pack light, stay focused. Smart. The truth is – I was not so much in a self-supportive kind of mode when I left Spokane. More of an anxiety ridden, self-loathing, little monkey kind of mode. Not the cute and fun little monkey either – the one that throws poop in your face. To be honest, I was really thinking, there is no way in hell I am getting into any kind of swimming suit in front of anyone. Maybe ever again. Especially in India. No way man. So of course I get here, it’s super hot, the ocean is beautiful and warm, and I want to swim in it. Badly.

My first attempt at swimming apparel? Some old smelly cut up yoga clothes. Good thought… didn’t work so well. The makeshift swim shorts slipped off fairly quickly when getting pummeled by big waves, which happen fairly often. Not good. And the top… well, the top… couldn’t stand the smell. Gross. So it was decided, after some encouragement, bit of light prodding, that I would get a suit. My optimism for finding a decent one in India was fairly low, with good reason, though nearly every shop has some sort of swim wear. If it wasn’t something made for a ten year old, it was free size; meaning one size fits all – A.K.A. – string bikini.

It’s ironic. Coming here the belief I was not fit to be seen by another human being in anything other than full pants and T-shirt was quite prominent in my mind. And here I was, in an Indian shop buying a string bikini.

After two days of wearing it around the house, I finally got an attitude of, fuck it, I’m going to the beach, and if anyone doesn’t like it they can bite me. So, I got to the beach, paid 150rs for a chair, table and umbrella, stripped off my t-shirt and lungi and walked my bikini-wearing ass right into the waves. It was the closest to ocean skinny-dipping I have ever been.

The important part here was the sense of non-caring. Not worrying if anyone was looking at me or what they thought or any of that. Such a relief to simply be there; soaking up the sun and digging my toes in the sand. A relief. A gift. And in that, something shifted. The idea, the belief, that I too could be a thing of beauty, just as all the beauty I see in the world… that I might possibly be that too.