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Poll: 30 Percent Of Americans Have ‘Swimsuit Shyness’

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Swimsuit season is here, but not everyone is excited about it.

A new poll found that nearly one-third of Americans haven’t worn a swimsuit in public in years.

As CBS 2’s Elise Finch reported, some people find ways to enjoy swimming pools, beaches and water parks without ever slipping on swim trunks, a bikini or one-piece because they don’t want to be seen wearing a bathing suit.

“Beautiful is a certain stereotype, and if we don’t fit that mold … then we have a real issue with being seen in public showing our bodies off,” said Rory Pottruck, of the Upper West Side.

“The female figure standards are so high that most of us don’t feel comfortable,” said Joanna Justice, of Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Added Charlotte Barnett, of the Upper East Side: “People are constantly taking pictures and posting them everywhere, so it’s not like it’s just people on the beach who are going to be seeing you.”

A recent Harris Poll found that:
• More than 30 percent of those surveyed had not worn a swimsuit in public in more than five years
• 20 percent of people polled had not worn in a bathing suit in 10 years
• Another 5 percent said they have never put on a bathing suit.

The poll found that “swimsuit shyness” isn’t just about weight; it also happens when people dislike a part of their body and become self-conscious, or ancient, about it.

“When you are waiting to have that perfect body before you go on that vacation, before you take your kids swimming, you’re really waiting to live,” said Leslie Heinberg, a psychologist at Cleveland Clinic’s Bariatric Institute and an expert on body image.

Experts say one of the first steps to getting over your swimsuit shyness is to stop focusing on other people.

“There are people of all shapes, all sizes, all ages, and you probably look pretty normal in comparison,” Heinberg said.

“It doesn’t matter what you look like,” one man told Finch. “Just go out there and have fun.”

That, of course, is easier said than done. Doctors say focusing on the fun you’ll have while wearing your bathing suit — instead of what you look like in it — can help.

For some, however, positive thinking won’t do the trick. Their body-image issues require therapy, and doctors say it’s important to know the difference.

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