Praia Mole (Swimsuit On), Praia Da Galheta (Swimsuit Off)

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How come we tend to only memorize hurtful comments and not soothing, flattering remarks?

I remember the day I started feeling self-conscious about my body. I had just turned 13 and I was meeting friends at the beach. We hadn’t discovered flirting yet, so we were actually going to play, chat or whatever we had planned that day. I didn’t think twice about changing into my swimsuit because that’s normal beachwear.

All it took was one look and one comment.

“Wow, what happened to you? Why you have so many scars?” one of the guys asked when I showed up in my bikini.

They weren’t “scars” per se but relatively new stretch marks on my hips. My classmate, who had the social skills and the cluelessness of a 13 years old, hadn’t even meant to hurt me but I agonized over the goddamn stretch marks for years after his comment.

Okay, I used to forget about the stretch marks and focus on something else once in a while—my nose, my legs, my teeth, my hair, my weight… Basically, I wanted to be a hot, petite blue-eyed blond with a small nose and a great smile.

Unfortunately, I am still a 1.70-metre-tall black-eyed brunette with a big nose and I’ll smile if I feel like it, no pressure please.

My stretch marks have faded now. I remember them as angry red lines that said “ah ah, goodbye childhood, welcome puberty!” but they are white and not that noticeable anymore. I actually feel extremely lucky because I didn’t get any additional pregnancy stretch marks, so I shouldn’t even be complaining. I also discovered that absolutely everyone has at least a few stretch marks, guys included—leave a comment if you’ve been spared!

I wish I hadn’t wasted so much time agonizing over minor dents and scratches in my paintwork—yes, “paintwork”, because that’s what my body is, an amazing machine that moves, runs, takes me places. Except for the occasional sore muscles, headache or cold, I’m mostly pain-free. My body respond to my brain and mostly complies with commands (although I really can’t do splits). It’s fucking amazing.

I’m not going to claim I think I’m pretty. I just choose not to ask myself the question.

I learned how to make my body work for me. I don’t hide, I try to change or improve what I can and on days when I have zero confidence, I remind myself that few people spend much time looking at me, anyway. I mean, how often do you walk someone on the street and think “wow, that person is [insert negative comment here]?”

The perfect body doesn’t exist anyway.

Come to the beach in Brazil. You’ll see every skin tone, every weight, every body shape, you’ll see cellulite, surgery scars, stretch marks, weird toenails, wrinkles, loose skin…—and yet, everyone is wearing a swimsuit and having fun. It’s not like Brazilians are immune to self-consciousness—they do care about their looks—but this is a country where everyone looks different, plus it’s hot, so whatever, you go to the beach and care about your stretch marks another day, ‘right?

The last beach we wanted to explore before returning the rental—”Mark, daddy didn’t really steal the car, we do have to bring it back…—was Praia Mole. It’s a classic beach on Ilha de Santa Catarina because it’s close to the city and accessible by bus. In fact, this is the only beach we went to in 2009 when we first discovered the island.

Praia Mole is a surfers’ beach with big waves. Not the best place to swim but it’s pretty.

We mostly wanted to take a trip down memory lane.

And there was something else I remembered but our 2009 trip—the nude beach hidden behind the rocks at the far end of Praia Mole.

As usual, I followed the Brazilians who instinctively know how to get from one beach to another—yes, it involved a long hiking trail and climbing rocks but after a twenty-minute walk, I found Praia da Galheta.

Less wind, smaller waves, quieter. Perfect.

Is it still a nude bea—

Oh yeah. That, or everyone lost their bikini and swim trunks in the water.

I took my bikini off and went swimming. It felt awesome. There are plenty of things I wouldn’t do at the beach—including having sex, too sandy!—but sunbathing and swimming naked is very enjoyable.

My stretch marks and I had fun.

Praia Mole, Ilha de Santa Catarina

Praia Mole, Ilha de Santa Catarina

Praia Mole, Ilha de Santa Catarina

Praia Mole, Ilha de Santa Catarina

Praia Mole, Ilha de Santa Catarina

Praia Mole, Ilha de Santa Catarina

Praia Mole, Ilha de Santa Catarina

Praia Mole, Ilha de Santa Catarina

Praia Mole, Ilha de Santa Catarina

Praia da Galheta from Ponta do Meio

Praia da Galheta from Ponta do Meio

Hiking from Praia Mole to Praia da Galheta (in doubt, follow the Brazilians…)

Hiking from Praia Mole to Praia da Galheta (in doubt, follow the Brazilians…)

Hiking from Praia Mole to Praia da Galheta

Praia da Galheta, Ilha de Santa Catarina

Praia da Galheta, Ilha de Santa Catarina

Selfie after the nude swim at Praia da Galheta, Ilha de Santa Catarina

Praia da Galheta, Ilha de Santa Catarina

Praia da Galheta, Ilha de Santa Catarina

Praia da Galheta, Ilha de Santa Catarina

Praia Mole, Ilha de Santa Catarina

Ponta do Meio, Ilha de Santa Catarina

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

8 Comments

  1. 1.70m tall brunette here as well! I don’t consider myself particularly pretty buy I am 29 years old now and I have learned that the most important thing is to feel good with yourself. After all, you have to live with your body for your whole life, and there’s always someone that’s not going to like something about you. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have to take care of yourself and your body, of course!
    But there are many different types of bodies and you cannot be both tall and petite, or having a big breast and wear light dresses without a bra, etc
    I remember last year, I had gained a few extra kiloes and it was the first time of the year I went to the beach. A girl told me I was very brave to wear shorts (I was about 66kg at the time, definitely not so fat), as she didn’t dare to do so. Honestly, I couldn’t care less if someone thought I was a bit out of shape XD I go to the beach to relax, it’s not a miss universe contest…
    Having said that, I envy that you can go around topless or naked so naturally at the beach! Here in Italy it’s not popular at all, I went to the beach in France a few times but I was afraid people would start looking at me if I went topless

    • I find Europeans are pretty judgmental when it comes to wearing a swimsuit. It seems that either you have the body for it (… whatever that means!), either you don’t… and what are you supposed to do, plastic surgery? Hide?? I noticed that when I lived in France. My mum, for instance, absolutely refuses to wear a bikini (she has a one-piece swimsuit) because she’s “old”. Huh? She has a great figure and seriously, what’s the age limit for swimsuit??? It drives me crazy. That’s what I like in Brazil, EVERYONE is wearing a swimsuit, 90% of them are bikinis (or very interestingly cut one-piece swimsuits) and that’s when you realize there’s no “perfect” body for it.

      If you can’t wear shorts when you weight 66 kg, I wonder who can! That’s a pretty normal weight! And I wore shorts when I weighed way more than that.

      I only go topless in France (or in this case, naked at the nude beach, but it’s very rare!), even in Brazil it’s not something locals do.

      • I think that Italians are even more judgemental than the French, when it comes to clothes XD
        I think the beach is a place to relax, hang out and get some tan. If someone is not going to approve my body or the way I dress, they can look towards the opposite direction, I’ll survive anyway.

        • They just may be! Every time I meet Italians, they look so… stylish! 🙂

          Like you, I like my beach time without pressure. They key is probably to go to a fairly empty beach 😉

  2. oh em geeee! I want to fly to Praia de Galheta, took off my hijab and swim on the ocean!!!!! :))
    I’m overweight, 160 cm (average height of Indonesian women) but 76 kg! strecth mark are every where and I have big tummy! seems this beach suits me well :))

    • I don’t find you “fat”, whatever that means. You’re super active, you look athletic to me!

      As for stretch marks, I think it’s the genetic lottery. My mum doesn’t have many either, looks like our skin doesn’t mark easily. It’s unfair, I know!

  3. I don’t have stretch marks either, the ones on the hips and the breast became white and almost disappeared very quickly… and I don’t have any on the stomach even after 2 pregnancies 😉 I guess I’m lucky !
    I don’t like to wear just a swimsuit when I’m out of the water because of my thighs :S But I have no problem with mini skirts/dress even if my tummy isn’t as flat as it used to be 😀

    • That’s lucky indeed after two pregnancy, it’s cool!

      Leave your thighs alone, I’M sure they’re just fine and that no one think “OMG, look at this woman, she should definitely NOT show her legs!” 😆

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