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For My 30th Birthday I Walked Around New York City In A Bikini

Here's why.

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My journey to 30...

Like many women, I've had a long and complicated relationship with food, my body, and self-image. Growing up thin and strong, I danced (mostly ballet), and I was unprepared for the sudden onset of puberty that instantly changed my 5'3 frame from a lean 120 pounds to a curvy 150 pounds. Now, I understand that in most circles, both social and medical, this would not be considered terribly overweight. But my young brain, sculpted from images in the media and the ballet world, was not having it. I was extremely uncomfortable with myself.

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Sweatshirts solve everything?

My weight kept climbing and for a period in high school I wore only sweatshirts as a quick fix. But by my senior year I had had enough. I recklessly decided I could use my willpower to stop eating carbs and anything more than three tiny "meals" a day, and my weight plummeted to 100 pounds. Not shockingly, this was not an easy weight for me to maintain.

Freshman 15 and bulimia.

Loryn Brantz / BuzzFeed

I went off to college with plans to keep up my carb-less, nearly food-less existence. But as I was stressed out, hungry, and in the delectable open-air food court that is New York City, it just wasn't going to happen. Every pound I gained felt like I had expanded by 20. I entered a new phase of disordered eating: binging and purging. Body dysmorphia kept me from leaving my dorm outside of classes for weeks at a time — the giant pale face with black lopsided melting slits as eyes I saw in the mirror was decidedly too horrifying to subject innocent bystanders to.

The long haul to health.

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As with any eating disorder small or large, there isn't a magic fix. I went to cognitive behavioral therapy and eventually, after years of perceptual mirror retraining, journaling, and some extremely helpful medications, my fixation on my weight slowly became smaller and smaller.

And here we are now.

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A lot has changed since those days. I'm 29 years old. I've learned to eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm full. My weight has evened out since I don't binge any more (or at least not in the same desperate-for-anything-to-not-feel-emotions way), and I'm happily married to a man who is very happy with however I look. But with all this progress, I still shudder at the idea of wearing a bikini.

So for my 30th birthday I'm giving myself the gift of giving no fucks and going out in NYC in a bikini.

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I grabbed this bikini at H&M mostly because it was inexpensive and I assumed it wouldn't get much use. Also, it's bedazzled...so that seemed like a plus? I tried to write "30" on my "trouble area" in lipstick, but as it turns out writing on your belly can be very disorienting and I wrote it wrong. In the spirit of "giving no fucks," I decided to leave it as is.

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I was extremely nervous on the trip out of my building but once we got moving I started to feel pretty awesome until I received some mean looks. I was instantly transported to the feeling of being insecure in high school dance uniforms, which really caught me off guard since I hadn't felt that way in a long time. I tried to do like Taylor and "shake it off."

The farmers market.

First stop was the farmers market. Most of the people working at the stands would either politely pretend not to notice I was in a bikini or laugh, which was nice. I enjoyed assessing the different eggplant sizes. ;)

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Next I compared the perfectly round peach butts to my own (as I've always viewed it) extremely unattractive flat butt. So maybe the peaches had rounder butts than me, but what they had in butts they lacked in conversation skills. Not that it's a competition or anything.

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We then decided to head over to a Rite Aid for some "not giving a fuck" snacks. This is also when I realized my bikini may have been entirely too small. Is it supposed to ride up constantly?

Rite Aid.

Rite Aid wasn't too bad — most people avoided eye contact, and I felt cool holding one of my favorite chemical-laden snacks in the checkout line. Sadly I think that was partly because I appreciated the comfort of having something to hold over my belly.

The park.

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It was beautiful outside and my cheesy puffs were delicious. I also felt like a warrior princess conquering the ever-dreaded fear of sitting with your stomach out. If someone had told me 10 years ago that I would someday sit publicly in a bikini, I would have fainted. It was strange and also a little sad that something so simple as sitting in a bikini felt empowering.

In conclusion.

Loryn Brantz / BuzzFeed

Do I think now that I’m 30 my insecurities have magically disappeared? No, but I do think that celebrating what a long way I’ve come with my body and sharing my story with other women struggling with body image issues was a liberating and, hopefully, helpful endeavor. Here’s to walking around topless for my 40th!

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