Oh, Hey! It’s Alyssa #51: Swimming Lessons

“Oh Hey! It’s Alyssa” is a biweekly webcomic by Alyssa!

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A. Andrews

A. is a totally complete incomplete paraplegic and thirty-something hanky-in-the-pocket cartoonist weirdo!

A. has written 69 articles for us.


  1. “… Reinforcing a false narrative that others’ comfort with my body should be considered more than my own.”

    Damn, damn, damn. All I can do is swear right now.

    • yes to this! I try to always remember this but then certain people always take it upon themselves to point out what they don’t like seeing!

  2. this broke my heart and the end is so touching. fuck enforced gender roles! it takes so much courage to take those small steps <3

  3. I know what you mean. I had two such instances.
    Once, when I went with other kids to the pool and their parents. They called out my dad for “forcing” me to wear sporty swimwear instead of frilly shit. (I was the one who choose the set bc the “pretty” ones always moved around when jumping or diving)
    And post-OP I had to wear tankini shit to cover up my big ass back scar. Bc it would brother others. Let me tell you: tankini tops are useless and tend to flee from their responsibles.

    atm I wear swim-shirts with UV protection to avoid becomming a lobster. And broadshorts with pockets over my boyshorts to get pockets for shells and rocks.
    so fucking happy.

  4. ??? Alyssa!!! Now I’m having so many feelings!
    I miss swimming so much! I can’t wait to work on feeling connected to my body and comfortable in swimming situations again.

  5. I was swimming in a public pool once as a kid, and a swim coach teaching a bunch of kids very loudly pointed me out as how NOT to swim. This was a pool used by the hospital for physical therapy, I have an obviously abnormal body, and I was a child. As a kid I honestly felt like it was my fault, and I begged my physical therapist to help me look normal. Looking back, I am so angry that coach would do that, I can’t even breathe. Swimming has always been hard for me physically, and that experience was really the nail in the coffin. I can’t imagine piling nasty gender expectations on top of that. My parents were always great about prioritizing comfort and expression; my brother liked to swim in girls’ swimsuits and my parents protected his right to do so.

      • I honestly hadn’t thought about that for a long time until I read this. It really helped me feel angry rather than embarrassed, while remembering it, and I think that is pretty darn important.

  6. #1 thing I miss about pools: walking. It is the only way my sister and I could walk. Slow stepping back and forth in the shallow end was MASSIVE fun. I doubt I could go under to my shoulders and still breathe now. Also, g-tube stoma, though small, ooze a bit.

    I’m sorry it was so difficult for you Alyssa. We won a lot of battles in the 70’s & 80’s, sorry we didn’t win that battle for you.


  7. I am a life-long swimmer and this spoke to me so much.
    <3 <3 <3
    The last panel, victory!

  8. I seriously love you and your drawing style — also Riese and I can’t get over your drawing of you wearing the swimming trunks and beaming, it’s so darn cute


    My very first memory of being gendered/told that I couldn’t wear something because it was something only a boy could wear was when I was little and visiting my grandparents house to use their pool.

    My grandmother had a small selection of bathing suits that were kept at their house since they had a pool and we didn’t, and one day she asked me to try them out and pick which one I liked the best. Dutifully I tried them all on, coming out and showing her how each one looked until I got to the one I KNEW I was going to wear from the beginning which was a pair of trunks I can only assume belonged to my brother or was something my parents let me pick out for myself ahead of time (they didn’t restrict the stuff we liked because it was gendered which was p cool) I came out in the trunks last, pretended to think about which suit I liked best before declaring that I would swim in the trunks only for my grandmother to tell me with no uncertainty that the trunks were not an option because they were inappropriate for a girl to wear.

    I was GOBSMACKED and felt totally betrayed and I remember that moment to this day.

  10. Oh wow!

    I remember this so well. I pretty well grew up in the water until puberty when I stopped looking like a sleek water being and started to look like a cartoon version of some guys wank mag. Everything bloomed,very lushly.

    I was, a ten year old looking like a late teenager. The comments by anything male were terrifying and comments by some of my friends mother’s, even worse.

    My mother told me not to pay attention to them and tried to brush it off by saying that the mother’s were jealous. But I don’t think she was able to understand and she couldn’t feel just how lost and frightened I felt.

    We moved away from the beach not long after and the only swimming I had to go to thereafter was organised by the school and eventually I was able to ditch that too. I don’t think I’ve been swimming in far too many years to count.

    My partner and I are planning a move soon that will take us back to the beach. I think I might reclaim my love of the water and there are these really nice Burkini’s available now too.

  11. Gosh this resonates. So happy that you’re doing YOU! I used to love the water till I hit puberty and my swim coach started to make comments about my weight and body shape. So much so that I stopped and didn’t get into the water for the better part of 20 years. In that time I’ve forgotten how to swim and it pains me because I want to be able to feel that freedom in water and enjoy times with friends when I do get to go near water. I’ve just restarted lessons and it’s hard. But I’m also learning to take it a day at a time, not to judge myself on how I look or care about what anyone else might think, not to judge myself on how I do at first and most importantly, remember it’s a process and I’ll hopefully come to enjoy being in water again. <3

  12. I didn’t even realize I had body problems around swimming (I thought it just stopped at getting walking pneumonia from it) til like two weeks ago when my family filled out membership cards to go swimming. we planned on going the next day and that whole day before i was just filled with dread. i’d have to wear a swimsuit that is v feminine because i didnt have any other ones and i refused to buy another one because i didnt want to go in the first place! (i know good logic here) i finally went last week and it was fine! but then last week i went again and we go when the older people are there and like older men are so frigging obvious about leering/showing off and i havent been back since. like im past the point of wanting swimsuits that make me feel better i want to turn into a dragonmonster on sight and like scare the shit out of men now

    i love your comic and five year old you and now you and every you in between is so brave!!!

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