Our next door neighbors have a pool. Both the mom and the teenage daughter are outside in the pool and just walking around their yard devil may care in their swimsuits all the time. And I am in awe. You see as far back as I can remember, to when I was a young girl, I never felt comfortable in a swimsuit. I never felt I looked good enough, skinny enough, long enough, concave enough. It wasn’t anything specific anyone told me or showed me. It was society and images and what I saw as beautiful. It was a body type I was never physically capable of achieving, what with my long torso and short thick thighs.
And so began a lifelong mission of not being in a swimsuit. Not on purpose at first, but it grew into a thing. I was hidden always. The only time I felt skinny enough to show myself in a bikini was when I was bone thin, at my sickest alcoholic-vodka-only diet. Too skinny to be healthy obviously. But as much as I was in a blackout during that period, I remember having the confidence to actually walk around in public in a bikini and think, “DAMN I LOOK GOOD.” Now, delusional as alcoholics are, I know I looked sickly. But at the time, I believed I was hot shit. All kinds of sick going on there.
Since then, a good 13 years, I have hidden. I have worn cover ups as much as possible, I have not gone out of my way to get in the water anywhere I went for fear of showing off this body. Both pre-kids and after kids, I’ve never ever been someone who is comfortable in a swimsuit.
Until now. I went swimming with my kids and friends this weekend and I wasn’t the least bit ashamed or self conscious of this body. In fact, I loved it. And here is my challenge. FOR MY KIDS but also FOR ME. I am good enough god dammit. I am beautiful. I am confident enough to walk around in my swimsuit and not give a flying fig because my kids are watching. MY KIDS ARE WATCHING. And all I want them to see if the smile on my face and the love and fun reflected back at them. You know what they will see if I’m hiding? SHAME. And don’t think they won’t emulate that. They’ll have enough to combat with media and other kids. I’m their absolute love and safe place. And they are perfect just as they are.
If I think for one second about either of my kids being ashamed of their bodies the way I have been of mine in the past – wait there it is – the tears are hot and heavy with regret. I choose right here and now that they will have an absolutely proud of her body mama to look to.
All women have some kind of body issue. We all do. And it sucks. It doesn’t actually matter what we really look like to others if in our head we see something disgusting. The media is slowly changing what they deem beautiful to share with us, but in the meantime it’s up to us to project our form of beauty onto our kids and ourselves and the world at large. It’s our responsibility.
This is the best I’ve ever looked in a swimsuit. I’m not my thinnest, I’m not at my most fit. But in my eyes, I am at my most beautiful because of how I feel inside and what I’m seeing on the outside. Beauty does indeed come from within. It shines. You shine your beauty and the world can’t help but see it. My kids will see that we build each other up, we don’t cut each other down. We are going to strut around the backyard and have our fun and not give a rip who sees nor what they think.
You know what I think when I see people out having fun and not giving a damn what people see? I think, THAT is what I want. So why not take it? I’m taking it. I AM TAKING IT.
Damn, I look good in this swimsuit. I see absolutely nothing disgusting in this photo.
I see love and light and joy and not giving a flying fig about anything but that moment right here. This is why I share it with you. Because we all owe it to ourselves to be this carefree and happy with our entire beings. That phrase “fake it til you make it”? Well, apparently, I just needed two little beings to smile so big at me until I believed it with my whole being. And I mean believe it with all I am and all I have. This is beautiful right here. And at 41 years old, to be able to believe that, is a gift I never thought I would be given.
RELATED: My very first skirted swimsuit arrived today and I’m thrilled to be entering this phase of my life
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