Why I Wear One-Piece Swimsuits

5 Tips for a Hot Bikini-Bod! // Get in shape for bikini season! // Find your perfect bikini today! 

These headlines, and the hundreds of others we see on websites and magazines before spring break, have begun to really frustrate me. Not because of any body-image issues that arise from the media- but because I don't wear bikinis. 

I never have, and maybe I never will. Let me tell you a little story:

When I was just about to turn 13, my mom and I drove by a swimsuit store in my town. I looked at the bikini-clad mannequins and turned to my mom.

'Do you think that once I turn 13, I can finally be able to wear a two-piece swimsuit like all of my friends?'

'Absolutely not,' she said. And, as most conversations that garner that kind of response from mom go, that was that.

For as long as I can remember, I've been wearing one-piece swimsuits. But it wasn't  until recently that I've been absolutely rocking my beachwear of (what is now my) choice. Sure, I can pull off a bikini- I mean, I'm proud of my body and of the work I've put into it. But there are a few reasons why I've decided to solely wear one-pieces (at least, for the time being).

On my phone while at a villa in a remote part of Italy- too typical. 

When I first started attending pool parties and beach events in middle and high school, I always feared what others would think of me for wearing a one-piece. Would they think I was fat underneath that panel of fabric covering my belly? Would they think I was a prude or, worse yet, not cool enough?

But then, at a pool party in high school, as I donned a strapless, fuchsia one-piece, while everyone else wore bikinis, one of my friends said something that really turned my perspective around:

You know what, Leda? You really look like a Barbie doll in that bathing suit! 

Me? A petite, busty, totally out-of-proportion brunette looked like one of the most iconically beautiful yet wildly unrealistic figures in the world? And all because of my uncool one-piece swimsuit?

From that moment on, I began seeing this style of clothing that I resented my mother for 'forcing' me to wear as something unique, flattering, and, in some ways, meaningful. Once I accepted how great I looked in a one-piece, I began to think about why my mom might have wanted me to wear something that covered up my body more than a bikini would.

One thing I've realized about wearing a bikini, that didn't occur to me when I was 13, is that it is essentially the same thing as wearing a bra and underwear. In public. In front of your family members, girlfriends- and guys.

Anyone else remember Amanda Seyfried's killer one-piece in 'Mamma Mia'?

In terms of family, it makes perfect sense to me why my mom would want me to wear a once-piece. I have three older brothers and a womanly figure. I would be incredibly uncomfortable allowing my brothers and dad to see me in my underwear- wearing a bikini isn't any different.

And when I started getting to the age where I started thinking about becoming involved with boys in a more-than-friends way, I thought to myself- wow, it's pretty special when a guy you like sees you for the first time. But, if you're wearing a bikini in front of your guy friends, don't they get to see nearly all of your body without reaching any level of intimacy with you?

Now, I'm not trying to shame anyone who does wear a bikini by saying that they're showing off too much skin. Personally, I'm not particularly conservative in the way I dress- I like to emphasize my best features just as much as the next girl. I simply think that these ideas about how much skin we show while wearing bikinis haven't been thought about much. I also find it perplexing how one style of swimsuit has become a social norm, while the other has become a sign of 'body image issues.'

I mean, if Taylor Swift's doing it, then it must be cool.

More than anything, I love wearing one-pieces because they're flattering. Whenever I put one on, I feel like a modern-day Marilyn Monroe. And now, I actually enjoy being the odd duck wearing the one-piece when I'm with my friends. I feel uniquely fashionable, empowered, and (dare I say it?) downright sexy.

There's no question that girls can't feel the same way wearing a bikini- they absolutely can! But there's nothing wrong with wearing a one-piece either- no matter what your reasons. I'm not an ultra-conservative slut-shamer or someone who's insecure about her body simply because I wear a one-piece swimsuit; I'm just a girl who thinks she looks fabulous in one.


If you're thinking about taking the plunge and buying a one-piece, here are a few of my faves! 


Interview with Melanie: High School Friend Turned Uni Friend

It's pretty common to have a friend (or acquaintance) from high school go to the same University as you. You might be in the same business lecture, wave to each other when you cross the quad, and meet up for coffee every once in a while.

What's not particularly common is having a friend from high school cross an ocean with you, and end up at the same University in another country together. 

It absolutely amazes me every day to think that my friend Melanie and I both ended up at the University of Edinburgh. I remember when Mel was accepted, and I was still waiting on my decision and trying to decide where I wanted to go. As far as I was concerned, going to Uni in Scotland was a far off dream that I wasn't even considering very much. Mel was so excited to be going to University here, and took any chance she could to try to convince me to come with her. And I guess, in the end, she did.

In our matching glasses on one of our first days in Edinburgh. 

I can't tell you how grateful I am to have a friend here that had many of the same experiences as me in high school- from struggling through sophomore Spanish, to taking the dreaded AP journalism exam, to being on Denebola (our online newspaper) together. It's funny, because the two of us were definitely friends, and had a lot of mutual friends, but didn't exactly run in the same social circle in high school. And it's turned out to be the same way here at University too! It surprises me how many mutual friends we have in a school of 30,000 students. 

Because Mel is so awesome and eloquent, I thought I'd interview her. This way you can hear what someone has to say about going the the University of Edinburgh and living in Scotland that isn't me.

What made you want to come to University in Scotland? 

I remember vividly the moment when the thought first struck me of University in Scotland. It was actually St. Andrews first that I really wanted to go to, during Junior year. It's beautiful, it's overseas, I love the UK- like, I have a strong, really intense love for the UK- and I was like 'it costs less money- it's perfect!' I had never known that option even existed. And then I learned about Edinburgh- it's in a city, the city is literary. I totally fell in love with Edinburgh- and after that I was like 'Edinburgh for sure.'

Yup, coming to Edinburgh was definitely a good idea.

What surprised you the most about coming here?

I would say the international presence- how cosmopolitan the University is. I just take it for granted now, but speaking with some of my American friends, it's different. I mean, the fact that I'm currently in the room with another American, a Swedish person, and a Scottish person is amazing. And then I have friends from India and Norway- really just everywhere.  

What societies are you involved in? 

I'm mostly involved in 'People and Planet' which is a social and environmental activism society. And we're currently doing a fossil fuel divestment campaign that everyone that reads this should get involved in, because divestment from fossil fuels is really necessary to help transition into a fossil free world that we all can live in. And then I may become involved in an Economics magazine later on. 

What is your favorite restaurant or cafe in Edinburgh? 

There's a really nice place near the beach, called Portobello beach. I'm not sure what the place is called, but it's by the seaside. And it has organic ingredients, a friendly staff, and they even grow herbs in their garden. It has all fresh meat, bread, and cheeses, and the best hot chocolate in the world. 

What do you miss most about being in the States? 

My family and my close friends. Obviously my family will be a part of my life always. But I feel like my friends and I at home have strong bonds and I don't want to leave them for college friends. Even though I do like college friends. I really miss them- the distance is tough.

It may look like Christmas, but here we're celebrating a true American holiday- aka Thanksgiving. 

It's a Friday or Saturday night in Edinburgh- what can we find you doing?

Well, this Saturday I was partying. You know me- party animal! And on Friday I was at the theatre. I've been out for the past three Saturdays, but I'm often out doing cool cultural activities on weekends too- like dinners and theatre. On an average weekend I'm out partying one night, and doing some other activity the other night.  

How did you find the process of looking for a flat? 

Very, very stressful. Our flat is really pretty, but it's not the best price in the world. It's really hard to find anything cheaper for six people. There's also the huge drama of who to live with. I wish it was a lot easier.  

Pick one: Scottish, English, Irish, or Welsh accent? (and why) 

Irish. Welsh accents are very flat. I think I would've said in the past- like my American self- would've said English but I've kind of become immune to them. So I'd say Irish because they're the ones I see least here. Also, Irish people are adorable.

What advice would you give to an incoming fresher coming from America to the University of Edinburgh?

First, it's a little bit overwhelming at the beginning, young grasshopper. And everyone's going to tell you that Fresher's Week is the best week of the year- but it's not. Also, the people I'm living with next year, I didn't really meet them until late November. We generally all avoided each other before that and told each other we were the most anti-social floor. So be patient. It's so overwhelming because it's a new place and there's so many different people. But don't just expect that everything will be the way it's supposed to be right at the beginning, because the best things come with time. It sounds really cliche, but that's actually what happens. I would also say, don't get too drunk because alcohol is legal. It's really fun, but be careful and be safe!

Melanie says, 'Be careful with your alcohol, young children!'

Many thanks to Melanie for taking the time to talk to me! (and for giving me tea and biscuits)  



How to Stay Healthy in College

Let's face it, the freshman fifteen is real. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either lying, not in college, or is a mutant with a ridiculous metabolism. While you may not gain so much as 15 pounds during your first year of college, you're definitely going to gain something.

With a lack of parental control over what you eat, insufficient funds to buy healthy food, and all of that drinking, it's pretty easy to pack on a few pounds in just two semesters.

When I was in high school, running seven days a week, I didn't think twice about my health or my weight. At some points I was running 35 to 40 miles each week, so I could really eat whatever I wanted and not gain any weight.

But now that I'm not running as much (I'm still doing it though!), I do have to be a little bit more mindful. And maybe you want to be too! I'm not perfect, but here are some of the things that I've been doing to stay healthy over the past two semesters:  

Eat breakfast // Seems obvious right? Well, some of us didn't actually start eating breakfast regularly until this year (hint: it's me). It's really easy to skip breakfast because of course we want to savor every minute of sleep we can possibly get. But in the long run it's better to wake up 20 minutes earlier instead of hitting snooze- you'll end up feeling more tired and groggy if you sleep in. Plus, by eating breakfast every morning, you're actually building up your metabolism, and you won't be hungrier later in the day.

Maybe you shouldn't be eating a full Scottish breakfast, though. 

Be choosy in the dining hall // The dining hall here is... not the best. In general, cafeterias are pretty hit or miss on the type of food they serve- some of it's healthy and some of it isn't. And while you can't control what the available options are, what you can control is what you choose, and, more importantly, how much you eat. When it's done buffet-style, it's quite easy to overload on all that comfort food. So you have to have some guidelines. For me, I try to avoid pasta when I can (especially with cream sauce), drink water with breakfast and dinner, and make sure the majority of my plate is made up of protein and vegetables. If you have rules for yourself (and know when to bend them...) having a healthy dining hall experience can actually be pretty easy.

This is actually my dining hall... definitely not my favorite place in the world.

Don't keep food in your room // I feel like it's very normal to keep snacks on hand in your dorm room in college- but I refuse to do it. If I had any food in my dorm room, I'd probably be eating it right now. Not because I'm hungry, but because I just really like to eat food, and will basically eat whatever's in front of me. Right now, all I can see on my shelf is tea and some chocolate from Christmas that I still haven't finished. This way, I'm completely avoiding my bad habit of eating just for fun or out of boredom.    

Make the most of youtube // Recently, I've been really getting into youtube videos that show you how to do 'mini-workouts.' When I have some time, or after I run, I'll always do a five to ten minute video targeting anything from my abs to my arms. It's a really great way of mixing it up. Need a place to start? I've been loving XHIT Daily and Blogilates!

This is one of my favorite ab workouts for when I'm short on time!

Walk everywhere // Easier said than done. I generally don't really have a choice in this matter, since Edinburgh is so walkable and the buses are probably slower than walking in certain areas. But no matter where you go to school, it's best to avoid driving, or even taking public transport all the time. It may be annoying, and you might have to leave for class earlier, but hey, walking's free!


Flat Hunting: The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy

Confession: When I was in high school, and I didn't have any weekend plans, I would stay in at night and watch House Hunters International on HGTV with my mom until we both fell asleep on the couch.

Normal? Maybe not. But I did learn a decent amount about 'house hunting' from watching those shows, among others (Property Brothers anyone? Let's just say my mom and I watched for more than just the properties...).

A quality show hosted by some quality men.

And what did I take away from spending hours of shows like this? Well, for one thing, I learned that when looking for a property, location is the most important feature. I also learned that you should look beyond the clutter, and see what the property really has to offer. 

But there are some things that watching TV shows about houses and apartments doesn't prepare you for when looking for your first rental property. You know, especially when you're 18 years old and 3,000 miles away from your all-knowing parents. 

While my three friends and I did eventually get our hands on a flat (and a lovely one at that), I can't say it wasn't stressful. From disgusting rooms, to insane flat viewings, to the hassle of sorting out money among four people, we had a lot to deal with. 

Our search started out where everyone's flat hunt starts out: online. We combed through tons of listings, ruling out the ones that were too far from campus or simply to expensive for our budget. Then came the phone calls to letting agencies to set up a viewing. Now, there are two types of flat viewings (at least, that we experienced): the first is an application process in which the prospective applicants send in forms for the agency and the landlord after viewing the flat. The second type is first-come-first-served. I'll get to that later...  

Funnily enough, I wasn't at our first flat viewing; I was a good student and went to my class instead. And maybe it was for the best. Online, the flat was bright, beautiful and spacious. But according to the two who could make it to the viewing, the place was a hot mess. It was supposedly absolutely gross to the point where it couldn't be saved. 

Lesson learned? Don't always trust the pictures online. 

Still can't get over how beautiful this area is. 

And then came our second viewing- which I couldn't say was much better. We were completely in love with this second flat when we saw it online: it had gorgeous bedrooms, a nice size kitchen, and even came with a piano! Talk about perfect. But getting this 'flat from heaven' wasn't going to be smooth sailing- it was a first-come-first-served process. 

In this type of flat viewing, all prospective renters show up at the property at the same time to view the flat. We were the second group there. By the time we were allowed into the flat, we thought there were maybe only five different groups looking at the property. But oh no were we wrong. 

There had to be about 40 or 50 students frantically running around that one four bedroom flat at the same time. We quickly peeked into each of the rooms, before asking the agent a few questions. We loved the flat (though it was a bit darker and smaller in person), and all we had to do was call the letting agency to put down our deposit. 

Of course, my friend who was calling wasn't receiving any service up on the fourth floor. So we all ran down the winding staircase and into the street, only to find that the group of girls who arrived before us were already on the phone, securing their deposit. 

Lesson learned? Don't get involved in first-come-first-served viewings unless you're 100% prepared.  

Getting a flat by the Meadows was clearly the best idea ever (Disclaimer: it is usually gray/rainy)

We were heartbroken. I never thought you could have emotions about a flat, but now I know it's entirely possible. But we marched forward in the process, looking at even more flats online, setting up more viewings, and lowering our expectations. 

Our next flat didn't seem too promising online. The location was ideal, but it looked cluttered and cramped. We went to the viewing (which was an application process), I with very low expectations, and ended up being pleasantly surprised. The flat was spacious, bright, and, aside from the clutter, quite beautiful. And the best part? There were fireplaces in nearly every room. 

And whaddya know- a week and a half later, the flat was ours!

Lesson Learned? Consider all your options and don't give up. 

Speaking with some of my older friends who are in flats this year, my group doesn't seem to have had the worst experience ever (some of my friends didn't sign a lease until June!). But we still had our fair share of struggles. 

The entire time we were looking for flats I kept thinking about how young I felt. I didn't think I was ready to be looking at properties or handling money. I mean, I'm only 18, and most of my friends at home will be staying in dorms for at least another year. 

If you asked me a year ago if I saw myself living in a flat in Edinburgh during my second year of University, I probably would've said no and proceeded to call you crazy, thinking that I would be living in a dorm in America at this point in my life. But sometimes, things in your life turn out drastically different than you expect, and you have to just go with it. 

Now, back to watching Property Brothers...       


Looking Forward

With two essays due exactly seven days apart, this past week hasn't exactly been the most exciting for me. Sure, there have been bits of fun here and there, but for the most part, I've been stuck inside writing day after day. But with only one week left before I'm officially done with my essays for this semester, I feel like I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Whenever I feel swamped with schoolwork, and have to say 'no' to more social events than I'd care to, I always try to think about what I'm looking forward to in order to get me through the pain of academics. So here are a few things I'm most looking forward to in the next month or so! 

The area that we (and, well, the rest of Edinburgh Uni, to be honest) are looking for a flat in.

Settling on a flat // Oh man, has this been a tougher process than I expected. I'll be sure to post about this in detail when we (as in, me and three of my close friends!) finally acquire a flat, but for now, let's just say it's been stressful. I honestly feel too young to be looking for an apartment, but I've realized recently that I'm definitely ready to move on from living in halls. Cooking, cleaning, and living with other people will certainly be a challenge, but in the end I think we'll make it work. I wouldn't be able to tell you when we're going to have a flat- it might be this week, in a few weeks, or even in a few months. But rest assured, I'm looking forward to being done with this flat-hunting business. 

Even when it does get dark early, Edinburgh sunsets are pretty brilliant.

Warmer Temperatures & Longer Days // Scotland is infamous for being dark, rainy, and just downright dreary. It's seriously not as bad as people make it out to be (or maybe I just arrived in a good year), but I'm still eagerly awaiting the days when I can go out in bare legs or just a light jacket. The transition to spring has actually already started, with crocuses blooming in the Meadows (seriously wish I had a picture right now!), and the sun setting closer to six o'clock than five. Even if it isn't completely spring-like yet, I'll keep my spirits high by remembering how much better these days are than when I walked out of a class at 4PM and it was pitch black. 

A snap from my trip to Santa Monica last March- that's right, March.

Spring Break // Going off of the whole warmer temperatures thing... I absolutely cannot wait for spring break! My time off is a little bit later than my friends' in America, but that may provide for less distractions when I have to buckle-down with the studying for my final exams. Of course, I'm not particularly keen on studying while I'm at home, but what I am looking forward to is going to Las Vegas and California with my parents and one of my brothers! My oldest brother lives in Santa Monica California, and while I certainly wouldn't want to live there full time (I couldn't deal with not having any proper seasons), I get insanely jealous when I look at the temperature there on my weather app. Right now, as it snows outside my window (I kid you not) I'm craving the sun, sand, and warmth more than anything else. 

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