I did something today I haven’t done in about ten years: I wore a bikini. At a public pool. I bought this bikini in the spring, hoping that I would be able to work up the courage to wear it this summer. A couple days later, I went back to the store and bought a tankini top as a back-up, which is what I have actually been wearing all summer. But it was so hot today, and my tankini needed to be washed after a few days at the cottage, and I really wanted to take Penelope to the pool. So I dusted off that bikini top, and we headed out to cool off with a swim.
I wish I could say that I tore off my tank top and shorts, and jumped into the pool with a victorious, “Look at me now, bitches!” cry. I may have parked us behind a tree because it had lots of “shade” (ie, I could shed my clothes in relative privacy and take a few deep breaths before venturing out to the pool). But I wasn’t as nervous or self-conscious as I thought I would be. Part of that stems from the fact that I’ve lost about seventy pounds over the past year or so, though my body is far from what most women’s magazines would classify as “bikini ready.” Thanks to two pregnancies and multiple cycles of weight gain and loss in my lifetime, my stomach will never be flat again. I have stretch marks and flab and I just love ice cream too much to ever be a size zero. And of course, breast-feeding did a number on my boobs, so I’m no longer as perky as my twenty-something self. I am healthy and strong now, though, and that knowledge gives me the confidence to wear and do what I want.
One year and seventy pounds has made a huge difference in my life. I don’t shy away from activities because I am unfit or ashamed of my body anymore. I used to spend my summers covering my body in as much clothing as I could get away with in the heat. I used to avoid doing things like going to the beach or to the splash pad or even just for a long walk, because I knew I would be sweaty and gross and out of breath and I felt terribly ashamed of myself. It would take me forever to get dressed to leave the house, because I would have to try on many different articles of clothing to figure out what made me feel the least hideous. This has not happened to me even once this summer. I wear tank tops and shorts most days. I have gone to the pool and the park and on many long walks with the girls without even thinking about how I would look or feel during these activities. I can get dressed in about thirty seconds (once I track down whether my clean clothes are still in the dryer or the laundry basket, waiting to be folded). I’m just living my life, without those seventy pounds weighing me down, physically and emotionally.
So yeah, I wore a bikini today. And I know that’s not much of an accomplishment in the grand scheme of things- I mean, I wore a weather-appropriate article of clothing to a local pool, it’s not like I climbed Everest or cured cancer. It just speaks to how much I have changed over the years, and I think it’s a change for the better. I wore a bikini, and I survived. There was no laughing and pointing or “beached whale” comments (at least none that I noticed). Most importantly, Penelope and I had a fun afternoon without my body image hang-ups interfering. And that’s something worth writing about.