Every summer for the past few years, I’ve gone through a ritual of trying on bikinis…many, many bikinis. I’d search endlessly for the perfect one to flatter my mom-body and maybe even magically erase a few pounds. I started this annual search after realizing that there were women who looked just like me walking on beaches and wading in pools while daring to wear bikinis. (Such bravery!)
I didn’t look at middle-aged bikini wearers and think, “Ooohh…she’s a little old to be wearing a two-piece” or “Wow, look at that belly roll. She certainly doesn’t belong in a bikini.” Instead I thought, “What the hell is wrong with me that I don’t have the confidence to do the same?” Each year, I’d take a glance in the swimwear store’s sadistic dressing room mirror and resign myself to spending yet another summer in my old ten-pound-when-wet tankini with the stretchy panel guaranteed to flatten my stomach and push every abdominal organ up into my chest cavity.
But, the following beach season, determined not to pass my body issues onto Biggie and Smalls, I’d march right back into the bikini abyss. Because I’ve previously given you a tour of the effect of two pregnancies on my physique and because I’m human (duh!), you know this carcass is far from perfect. This fact continued to trouble me no matter how many times I tried to impress on the girls that no one is perfect and that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. I just couldn’t manage to absorb that lesson myself.
But this summer, something miraculous happened. Someone sent me this blog post by Karen Lee of ‘Girl on Saturday’ titled ‘I Wear a Bikini Because…Fuck You.‘ (She had me at “fuck you.”) In the essay, Karen lists a number of reasons she wears a bikini including: 1) “I don’t give a shit,” 2) “My belly has earned it,” and 3) “I have daughters.” Now, THIS is the kind of woman I want to be! To say I had an epiphany wouldn’t be an exaggeration and I can’t thank Karen enough for the jolt out of the blue telling me to, once and for all, get the hell over myself!
And so I did. I tried on just a few bikinis this time before deciding on one from J.Crew. It is a lovely shade of “Matisse Blue,” AKA, bluish-greenish. The top is supportive enough for my ample bosom and the bottom is small and stringy enough to give the illusion that I actually have an ass.
But here’s the thing I’m most proud of…I actually wore it! In public! I took baby steps debuting it first with friends at a private pool in Hilton Head, South Carolina before stepping out on the beach where any number of people could have seen me and judged the tautness of my flesh and the appropriateness of a “woman of a certain age” wearing a bikini. But, you know what? Despite my fears, no one paid a damn bit of attention to me and I didn’t die of embarrassment. In fact, not one person gave a shit.
On the other hand, I felt great! I was able to swim as close to naked as possible, a benefit also noted by Karen in her blog post, got some sun on my belly which hadn’t seen natural light in about fifteen years and, moreover, it didn’t take three days for my swimsuit to dry. Did I look great? Hell no! I looked like a 45 year old mother of two who tries to stay fit, but hasn’t been to yoga in weeks and sometimes has wine and cookies for dinner when the kids are in bed. Ad Man and the girls thought I looked beautiful, though, and I was happy. It may have taken me a few years to get here, but I’ve finally realized that’s all that matters.
One final note, the photos above are all you get. It’s going to require several more years of therapy for me to willingly post a picture of myself in a bikini!