Wear the Bikini

There have been way too many times I’ve missed out on swimming or playing at the beach because of how I looked in a bathing suit. I’d complain about being too cold, or that I forgot my bathing suit, watching everyone else splashing and having a blast as I watched from the sidelines.

My daughter always tried so hard to drag me into the water. I remember putting my feet in to pacify her and often thought of the dozens of bathing suits collecting dust in the bottom of my closet taunting me.

I felt guilty secretly catching glimpses of myself in the mirror and picking apart every part of my body. I had a daughter looking at me for guidance, to love what I saw in the mirror, but it was hard because the truth was, I didn’t.

I wanted to be smaller, leaner, more muscular, lighter, fuller, less jiggly, firm, shorter, all of it at the same time. The impossible images depicted on TV, magazines, and social media put these thoughts in my head all at once; it was contradictory, confusing and maddening.

I don’t quite remember when it happened, perhaps sometime around meeting my husband, when I stopped caring about how my thighs touched or jiggled a little when I walked. How my stretch marks from birthing two beautiful babies peeked through the tops of my bikinis. I finally met someone who loved me. All of me and never made me feel lesser than for not looking like a runway model. Every day I feel beautiful in his eyes. And our son, as well, who loves to lay his little head on my legs, hold my hand as we walk to get the mail, and hold tight to my arms that hold him to pick his favorite snack.

I love that something changed. I hated missing out on memories, moments with my children and family because I felt selfconscious.

My legs became strong and fierce, as they ran after my two old, and played catch. My arms are steady as they help my teenage daughter do her hair for a date. And my stretch marks are a reminder that our bodies, as women, can do amazing things, like give life, give hope and love everyday. Our bodies are strong, and made to tackle many things that go beyond normal. We juggle snack time and work meetings, swimming lessons, and book club. We are amazing in all that we are.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of days I struggle with my self image but more often than not, my daughter comes in asking for help with her makeup or hair, my son wraps his little arms around my body and suddenly what I see in the mirror aren’t imperfections but someone who is loved, needed, wanted.

So today as we opened our pool for the season, I chose my bikini. My son laughed with glee as I came outside, my daughter said “Go, mom!” and returned to texting on her phone, and my husband placed a kiss on my cheek.

I’ve decided that from here on out, I’m going to wear the bikini. And you should, too.

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