How To Not Feel Judged

It’s all in your head

Rachel Dodman


Photo by Tom Barrett on Unsplash

People probably aren’t judging you in the way you think they are. Let me explain how I know this.

I have recently taken up swimming and it has opened my eyes to a whole new world!

Who has hair?

I was neurotic about removing body hair before swimming. I generally wear trousers most of the year and have been slowly turning into an orangutan over lockdown — so shaving felt like a big thing.

When I got to the pool there was a guy with lots of tattoos holding a young lady with profound learning disabilities. I noticed them because they stood out. The only swimming available at that time of day was lane swimming. The young lady couldn’t swim and the man was walking lengths, carrying her. I was impressed with how attentive the man was and wondered whether people misjudged him because of the tattoos. The next thing I noticed was the young lady’s foot. It was sticking someway out of the water at an apparently impossible angle. Joined to the foot was a very hairy leg. Hairier than mine could grow.

What struck me was how these thoughts made me feel. I was glad that the lady could access the pool, pleased that the man with her could support her so well and surprised at how high she could get her foot without drowning.

I was not disgusted or repulsed by her hairy leg. I was a little bit surprised. Then I stopped thinking about it.

Another day I noticed a man in the faster swimming lane who had a very hairy back. My thoughts went something like “he must be an amazing swimmer to be able to swim in the fast lane with so much body hair — it must cause drag”. I didn’t think how awful his back hair was — I was viewing it as a positive sign of his swimming ability!

Big bodies

Before lockdown, I had a swimsuit with a little skirt attached. I liked it because it covered the top of my legs and made me feel less judged for my fat thighs. It disappeared during lockdown. I have no idea where it went, but it isn’t here. (Maybe it went on holiday while the humans couldn’t and decided not to come back?!) I had to buy a new swimsuit and the only one I could find was a normal style. I felt quite self-conscious. I wanted to wear a towel…



Rachel Dodman

Rachel is a freelance writer from the UK. Check out her latest novella Downhill From Wednesday on Amazon!