When I got the invite to EBDL’s Dare to Bare beach event the first thing that went through my mind was WHAT SWIMSUIT AM I GOING TO WEAR?!… Of course, that is a normal reaction for any woman going to a beach party to have, but for me there was a small sense of terror creeping in. You see, I bought my first ever sexy plus size swimsuit this year! All of my previous swimsuits going all the way back to when I was a kid were about covering up my hips and belly and not showing any of my butt because let’s face it… at a size 18 I’m a big girl and I was taught that the bigger you are the more you should cover up because it’s indecent; especially around children. SMH I also have Lupus which causes photosensitivity and can cause me to go into a flare up, so I’ve always used that as an excuse to cover up and not really go to the beach. Before this month, the only bathing suit I ever owned basically looked like I was wearing a tank top and a skirt. It covered up everything except my arms and part of my legs! It’s kind of ridiculous when I think about it, because I have literally been nude for a photo shoot before, but there is something different about walking buns out onto a beach with hundreds of strangers. There’s no posing, no airbrushing, no scouring through 100 photos to find that perfect angle that makes you look 15lbs lighter. It’s just you….. out in the open for the world to see and judge. So as my nerves kicked into high gear, I decided to go and look at the photos of EBDL’s beach party last year. I saw how confident, sexy and uninhibited all of the women looked and I wanted that for myself.

It actually took me a few weeks to buy my ticket for the event, even though I knew I wanted to go.

When I finally set my mind to it I also bought two bathing suits in a similar style: high hip, low V cut one pieces with my back out and my butt free to giggle as much as it wanted; one in red and the other in black. I did a trial run at a friend’s pool wearing the black thong bathing suit just to see how comfortable I could feel around people I knew then when July 22nd came I broke out my hot red Fashion Nova Curve bathing suit and said it’s now or never! When I first arrived, I remember immediately feeling a sense of relaxation. I was greeted by smiling faces and open arms, some I knew while others I was just meeting, but all of them felt in that moment like home.

These were my people.

All of the fear and trepidation I had been feeling dissipated as I looked around me to see all of the different shapes, shades and sizes of people in their sexiest swimsuits genuinely enjoying each other and so comfortable in themselves. I saw strings, gold, sequins and more curves than a coke bottle factory.

This place was untouchable! There was so much good energy, beautiful sun-kissed skin and glitter to go around that I couldn’t help but have a huge smile on my face.

As I made my rounds and sat at different vendor booths, I started hearing some of the vendors converse about how they loved this event and the message it sent and how they were glad to be apart of it. I also saw other beach goers showing interest in our space of pure acceptance and I was so moved by how open and loving the EBDL attendees were being to any passerby’s who stopped to chat or kids who wanted to come over. What Alexa did that day was so beautiful. She created a space where we could feel free to be ourselves and be supported by those around us and I believe that safe space caused others to notice and gravitate towards us as well.

Our world needs more places where people can be their authentic selves without fear of judgement. I am truly grateful for the experience.