Your body image sucks, at least that’s the story in your head, and you’re not alone. More than 8 million people in the United States have eating disorders. That’s roughly 3% of the population, according to The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.

In the UK nearly 2 million people have eating disorders. Experts say at least 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their life. Not sure how stats apply the world over, but it’s safe to say a lot of people are uncomfortable with their body image.

At a time when summer sun invites playing in the water, hanging out at the pool, and exposing more skin than usual people are shy, embarrassed and covering up. It’s a shame that we’re not more comfortable with who we are. Moms are hiding and not getting in the water with their kids because they are exposed. This isn’t just a female problem. Men and Dads are left looking at themselves in the mirror wishing they hadn’t drank all that beer and longing for the six-pack of their youth.

My family is on vacation and we’re getting some serious beach time. We see all kinds of things, shapes, and sizes. We live in America and our hearts long to be abroad. This summer we’ve stumbled upon beaches where public indecency doesn’t exist. People are virtually uncovered from head to toe.

The first time we went to the beach we were a bit surprised by what we saw, and whatever your feelings are about being uncovered, this is normal. We didn’t know family beach time would be semi-nude, meaning it’s okay to be completely uncovered from the waist up. All shapes and sizes are invited, to hang out openly.

Nicole Akers’ picture

If that’s alarming I hope you’ll allow a perspective shift to feel free in your own skin. There’s a time to throw caution to the wind and be more daring than usual. You’re probably more likely to try something new with people who will never see you again, rather than friends who will call you out the next day, or post a picture of it on social media. Even if you get caught in the background of someone’s picture no one will be able to identify you.Social Media is the Downfall of your Health and Every Thriving Human Relationship
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Be Daring

I dare you to try it. The experience might set you free. Ever gone skinny dipping? It’s not a nostalgic feeling of days gone by, or under cover of night. It can be done in the daylight, with the sand between your toes and every part of your body.

Will you take the dare?

Okay, maybe not the first time. I watched women look at other women scornfully. Probably because someone was willing to do what they were not comfortable doing. Obviously, a first-timer who is not ready to embrace this yet. It’s a good way to grow.

Courage

Everyone has something they wish they could change about their body if they’re honest. Men are in suits commonly worn for competitive swimmers regardless of whether there’s a six-pack to be shown off or a beer belly. It’s all good.

Women all have something they wish they could hide. Maybe it’s a little more tissue on the love handles. Some boobs could knock a person out if they bounce while others are flat-chested as a newborn babe. It’s all okay. Many take off their tops just to cross their arms over their breasts allowing the sun to directly warm their upper body. Probably a second-timer.

Stop Hiding

There are lemon bellies, bellies that look wrinkled like lemons and rolls that aren’t waves in the water. Tattoos some wish they hadn’t received, deformations, handicaps, injuries, scars, birthmarks, and it’s all an invitation to be comfortable with who you are.

Is it possible to be confident when your body image sucks?

That’s what many wonder on their second visit. It’s truth and dare time.

Will you come out of hiding and be brave?

Confident

Shops carry bottoms only for women. If you are confident in who you are you probably purchased one of those and hung out on your first visit. Maybe you walked the shoreline back and forth because you are confident and free.

If the third time is a charm it’s possible you’ve grown to be confident in who you are, flaws and all. It might be time to hang out.

Imagine the boldness.

Bravery

Sometimes bravery requires growth. This is a family beach and it’s full of half-nude people. There is nowhere this is not allowed, no beach on this island, anyway.

What if you accept what everyone else already has…

No one is perfect.

If you came here ready to be you, threw off your top and let the cold ocean directly embrace your breasts, good for you.

Some have to grow in bravery to own the experience. Most men don’t look directly. But, men are men, and this is a beach, and you came here. When a sideways glance is returned with square shoulders, perfect posture, and a smile — brave becomes beautiful.

Would you do it?

Did I?

You decide.