You know when you were a kid and the summer was nearly over and you used to get so excited for school to start? You got new clothes and the memories of the monotony of teachers and homework had worn off over the summer months and for some reason you looked forward to entering those locker-lined halls again? Then, something happens about 3 weeks in. You realize you made a terrible mistake. You don't want to be in school. There are deadlines and gym class and cafeteria food! School is the worst!
That is sort of how I feel about swimsuit season. All winter we complain about the snow and cold and all the layers and look forward to afternoons by the pool. Then, it's the first 80-degree weekend and you decide to go to the dam with your kids and you think naively to yourself, “Ya, so I've been eating donuts by the box as a mid-day snack in order to survive it being 20-degrees outside for the last few months, but I'm sure this swimsuit will still look fine.” Then, just like the delusions you were living in on the first day of school thinking that this year you're gonna LOVE learning about the lymphatic system in biology, you put that swimsuit on and realize you have been LYING TO YOURSELF.
Swimsuit season sucks. Summer? Sure, that is awesome. Grilling in the backyard, catching fireflies after dark, and yes, going to the dam. But swimsuit season is something else. It's comparison, it's self-judgement, it's discomfort and nitpicking. It's magazine covers reminding you that a body in a bikini should only look one way and it's feeling like you won't measure up because of genetics or all the babies you have pushed out of YOUR bikini body or because lately maybe life has sucked and getting on the treadmill is just not as comforting as Oreos.
But, this swimsuit season I have a daughter. A GOOD one. Bright-eyed, happy, and so so beautiful. And if I can help it I want this little daughter to never feel like her value is attached to how small or big or smooth or tan her body is. It's a big task. Giant, even. In fact, I wondered as I put on my swimsuit this weekend and went through the mental checklist of my own physical flaws, how can we perpetuate a mindset that we don't believe ourselves?
I really don't know the answer. Issues with our bodies come from places and experiences in our memories that are tough to shake. We might even believe or remember them (whether they are true or not) until the day we die. So I think a way to make a start is by working harder to remind others of their beauty. This hasn't always come naturally to me because I spend A LOT of time thinking about myself, or worse, judging the perceived flaws of others. Reminding others of their beauty requires an awareness and it requires practice. YOU look beautiful. YOU look great in that dress. YOU are hilarious. It's simple really, even though it's hard, but by looking for beauty in others and expressing it more it might help us recognize the beauty in ourselves. Plus, it makes people feel damn good and that is the best.
After that I know I have to place more value on the attributes of a person that really mean something by actually valuing them. Do I want my daughter to have a head full of important ideas that she mulls over, tries out, tests, and expresses? Do I want these important ideas to matter more to her than her jean size and fill her up in ways that focusing on physical beauty never will? Then I better get some important ideas in my own head. I better read, and get involved, and fill up my time and mind with pursuits that show that I am more than a silly obsession over my waist measurements or wrinkles.
Oh, it's hard. All those babes on social media with thigh gaps and no stretch-marks can really get you thinking you're not enough. But it's not their fault, not really. They deserve to post what they want and be who they are, just like anyone else. But this swimsuit season I've gotta make some changes, accept some things, and learn from that acceptance. When I put on my swimsuit I'm not gonna look like them and I know it. I'm not gonna look like I've spent all winter in the gym because I haven't. I spent it baking (and eating, obvi) cookies on a snow day, and watching movies with my babies (with more cookies) and I probably should have done some jumping jacks or something but don't get me started on how much I hate burpees.
So maybe you don't look perfect in that swimsuit and maybe it kind of sucks. That's alright. We're human. We're vain. We want to look good, be desired, have confidence. We can't help it. But beauty does come from within, doesn't it? Isn't there power that comes from recognizing your own capacity to learn and help and love and grow and then doing what it takes to make those things happen? So I say, get a good fitting swimsuit. Maybe some high-waisted bottoms (like I have) that suck in your belly with some peplum so no one knows it's there (like I have). Getting a swimsuit YOU love can help take the edge off your swimsuit feelings whether it's vain or not. Feel good, look good. (This is where I MUST plug Lime Ricki swimwear. The BEST, most flattering, modest, well-made, affordable and adorable swimsuits I have ever worn with options for every body type. End plug.)
Next, get over it. We have to! Your butt isn't the best and your arms will never look like Michelle Obama's but she isn't you and that's good because the world doesn't need another Michelle Obama, it needs you. Plus, if you had a personal chef and the White House gym you would have bangin' arms too. I'm pretty positive about that.
Swimsuit season is here! How's your bikini body? I'll tell you. It's just fine! In fact, it's perfect. It's made babies, and ran races, and hugged friends, and grown, maybe bigger, maybe smaller, but no amount of spandex can change its worth. So let's go read a book, tell our girlfriends that we admire their listening ear and would kill for their cheekbones, be what we are and get on with our lives. I'm going to. At least, I'm gonna try.
Swim Top: c/o LimeRicki (Get 15% off using the code THEPRETTYLIFEGIRLS until 6/5)
Swim Bottoms: c/o LimeRicki