Ah, bathing suit shopping season is here! I can hear the groans of moms all over America agonizing over dimply thighs, loose belly skin, and stretch marks. I hear it all the time from friends — “I could never wear a bikini,” or “No one needs to see that” — and it makes me sad. It’s true that our string bikini days may be behind us, but that doesn’t mean we who have borne future generations and wear the scars in so many ways must be relegated to the tankini “mom suit” section at Target. I happen to know that no matter what size mom you are, your body works hard for you every day and it certainly doesn’t deserve an ugly bathing suit for the few fleeting times you get to relax by a pool.
The bikini is a wonderful thing. It is a sun-celebrating piece of freedom that reminds us of the summers of childhood, when we didn’t worry about what other people might think as they drove by and saw us running topless through sprinklers with total joy. (Yes, the children did that in our neighborhood when we were too lazy to get suits on. Underwear seemed good enough.) Somewhere along the way, we became embarrassed of our bodies and it crippled our ability to find the simple joy in sun worshiping.
I know you. You stand in front of the mirror in your old lady suit and agonize over the cellulite and stretch marks. You hate the way it looks and you just know that everyone at the pool is going to judge you and laugh at you because you don’t look like a 20-year-old hard body. So you grab your cover-up and avoid taking it off, even when you’re so hot you’re melting. You won’t even join your kids when they want you to play in the water with them. This has to stop. Here are the best reasons you should buy (and wear) a bikini this summer.
9. Fat looks better tan.
You heard me. You know it’s true. Wear your sunscreen, but get that belly out there. Whichever part of your body you hate the most, you will hate a little less when it’s brown. If you’re naturally brown you already have a leg up on all of us pigmentally challenged girls. Brown is better. (Please avoid cancer and orange spray tans.)
8. You are way smaller than you think you are.
I don’t care if you’re a size 22, you are smaller than you think you are. There was a TV show called “How to Look Good Naked,” where the host would take a woman and show her twelve or so women lined up from smallest size to largest size in order. The host would ask the woman to place herself where she thought she belonged in the line. Without fail, every woman who appeared on that show put herself five to six sizes larger than she actually was. That’s a huge psychological discrepancy! Your biggest critic is you.
7. No one cares.
You think people at the beach or pool are all waiting for you to show up so they can critique your suit, your stretch marks, your belly fat, your arms, your knees and every other thing you hate about you. They’re not. They’re all worried that you are judging them for the same things. Absolutely no one is looking at you and thinking about you. Everyone is self-focused (unfortunately) and probably web surfing, so there’s really no reason to worry.
6. Today’s body looks better than tomorrow’s body.
Every day you are getting older. I learned this lesson the hard way. I spent the first half of my adult life in constant agony over my body and my imagined “fat.” After giving birth to my third baby and many pounds and sizes later, I looked back at my 20-year-old rockin’ bod and felt sick. I thought, that was fat? I was clearly out of my mind. I was a size 6 soaking wet. Now I’m almost 40 and very aware that 20 years from now I will look back at photos from now and say, “I thought that was fat?” or “Look at how smooth my skin was.” So enjoy now. Because now won’t last forever and you look great right now.
5. Bathroom breaks.
Have you tried to go to the bathroom in a wet one piece? Impossible.
4. Tankinis are cold.
The tankini was a good idea and most moms I know love them. But I can’t get into it. Every one I try is too loose on top and slaps wet against my skin in a cold, uncomfortable way. When I’m playing in the sun I don’t want to be cold.
3. High-waisted bikinis are back.
The answer to the baby belly is finally here (again). The 1950s high-waisted bikini bottoms are back and they are adorable. I wore mine to the pool the other day and a skinny teenager came over to ooh and ahh over my suit. That’s right. An 18 year old with washboard abs had to know where I got it. I can’t say it didn’t make my day. Old Hollywood is back and that’s good news for those of us with mom curves. Go check out the bikinis at my favorite website SwimSuitsForAll.
2. It is what it is.
You are who you are. We’re all on a diet. We’re all trying to get more fit, exercise more, and lose weight. And that’s great. Good for us. But don’t live for tomorrow. Don’t deny yourself happiness today because you might be thinner later and then you can be happy. You’re a hard-working mother and a role model for those kids. They’re watching you and they know if you are embarrassed of yourself or if you love you. They will emulate you. It is especially important for moms of girls to show them that different body shapes are worthy and okay because they are constantly bombarded by unrealistic images of airbrushed women. The crazed feminists and I agree on this one thing. Women have to stop shaming themselves and one another for not looking like chicks in magazines. It is so important to impart that being healthy does not mean a girl must be a size 4 and that girls of all sizes can exercise and eat well and wear attractive bathing suits! Teach them that! For moms of boys, it is also important to show them that all different kinds of women are attractive, not just the ones they see on TV. Most likely those boys are going to marry girls whose bodies will change after childbirth. Being surrounded by unafraid women of all sizes is good for boys.
1. Because you can.
The other day a waterpark in the UK banned bikinis at its women-only night and announced that only Islamic appropriate swimwear would be allowed. Strangely, it was not a closed event for Muslims only, but open to everyone…as long as you didn’t wear a bikini. Women were understandably pissed. Every time I wear my bikini in public I think of the women across the world who are forced to cover themselves under fear of punishment or death. (I would sure like to see the same feminists who stand against body shaming come out for the liberation of Muslim women forced to wear burkas.)
I wear a bikini because I am a free American woman and I can. And so can you.