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On Being Surrounded by Itty Bitty Bikinis

Jess Gysin and Christal Engle

Credit: Kristen Seymour

Most of the time, I’m a pretty confident girl. Like many people, I’d like my belly to be flatter, my arms to be slimmer, and my thighs to not rub and chafe when I run, but it’s not all that often that I feel terribly intimidated. I mean, I’m active, (I think) I’m funny, and I tend to get along with the majority of the people I meet. What’s there to be uncomfortable about?

Well, apparently, when you put me in a bikini around a beach full of gorgeous female pro beach volleyball players who are wearing bikinis half the size of mine, I get a little intimidated.

Okay, a lot intimidated.

Last month, I attended the Corona Light Wide Open beach volleyball tournament, and since my husband works for Oakley (a sponsor of the tournament and some of the players), we ended up spending more time with some of the pros than we normally would have. It kills me to say that my initial reaction wasn’t one of awe that these men and women were so accomplished at their sport (although I totally came around to that after watching them play). My reaction was, “Whoa, I can’t wear a bikini around them. I’ll look ridiculous.”

And yes, that is coming from someone who trained her ass off to accomplish a major race just a couple of months ago. Someone who’s a huge believer in feeling good in your own body. Someone who encourages other women she meets to love their bodies and be proud of themselves. Apparently, that’s harder to do when surrounded by women who are over 6 feet tall, strikingly beautiful and ridiculously, amazingly fit. Like, their thighs never, ever touched. Who knew?

Fortunately, these women were as fabulous to chat with as they were to look at, and before long, I was chatting with one of the players, Jess Gysin (yes, that’s her in the picture), about nutrition. She’d taken the year before off to rehab her knee and realized how much she’d relied on her training to keep her in shape. I’m pretty sure my jaw dropped to the sand because, well, the grass is always greener, you know? I guess I assumed that someone who looked like her and wore a bikini for her job would have it all figured out. But nope, beach volleyball players, at least the ones I talked to, are human, too.

Bottom line—this was a great wake-up call for me for a few reasons. First, it doesn’t matter if you’re a size 2 or 12 or 22—if you love yourself, other people are going to like you, too. I don’t think any of my pals would consider me a better friend if I had a smaller waist. And also, people like the athletes I met—hi Jess and Christal!—well, they work and work and work for those bodies, and even though their job is to be in the best shape possible, they’re still figuring things out.

Do you find that your self-confidence wavers depending on the situation? What do you do about it? —Kristen

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7 Comments
  1. Alyssa says:

    This is a bit off-topic, but for the past few years I’ve wondered why the women play in those teeny-weeny bikinis while the men play in board shorts. It just seems there’s more of a (sorry!) titillation factor on the womens’ side.

  2. Ivori says:

    Q >Do you find that your self-confidence wavers depending on the situation?
    A > Yes I do !

    Q > What do you do about it?
    A > I literally close my eyes and think; you lost 145 pounds, had a baby and have great health. Don’t beat yourself up because everyone is different and that is what gives the world variety 🙂

  3. Jennifer says:

    My self confidence definitely depends on the situation… if I’m in a suit I can be really confident, but it’s harder to put on a bikini and strut your stuff, especially when it feels like everyone out there looks better than you. We recently did a post on our blog runningwithmascara.com about upping confidence at the beach, and I encourage you to check it out. This is a really inspirational article, though! I’m glad you had such a good experience meeting the v-ball players.

  4. Veronica says:

    Great article! Thanks, Kristen!!!

  5. When I was training for a bikini competition my coach had 3 girls with VERY different body types walk into the middle of the room. She asked them to face away from us, then turn around and SMILE at us. When the girls turned around their smiles lit up the room and then our coach asked us to think to ourselves, “did you even notice any of their bodies?” And I truly didn’t. I just noticed their bright, confident faces.

    it’s amazing what presenting yourself with confidence does with any body type!

  6. Tonya says:

    I actually play beach volleyball and know a lot of the people you are talking about, (but I’m at a lower recreational level), and you’re right, they are in amazing shape. But to me it’s more inspiring than anything else. When I first started playing, I swore up and down I would NEVER be one of those girls in a bikini, but as time went on I realized it was too hot and felt weird to be playing in clothes like shorts and a t-shirt. Also I started to see women of ALL sizes playing in bikinis, and no one noticed the shapes and sizes. They noticed how good they were at playing. After awhile, you don’t even think about wearing a bikini anymore. I’m so thankful the sport taught me how to run around and be athletic in a bikini, where most of my life I wouldn’t even dream about it even if I was just laying by the pool.

  7. Andy says:

    Thank you for posting this. Like you, I bounce between being totally confident in my imperfect body and then hating myself for all the things I have not achieved yet. It’s difficult when our culture is so obsessed with having the 100% perfect body and the 100% perfect life, but I try to remind myself every day that who I am now, flaws and all, is more than enough. 🙂