Moms and Swimsuits … what’s the big deal? (If only …)

Anyone who has ever struggled with body image (and who hasn’t?!) knows that the beach is one of the most challenging places to visit on earth. It’s a judgement zone on steroids (or at least, that’s how it feels) and everyone is next to naked … which makes me horribly squeamish.

Even when I was my thinnest (circa 2004-2005), I only liked laying down or walking around with a sarong at the beach/pool. Rationally, I knew that I had a [mostly] flat belly (a gift even when I wasn’t thin) … but I had dimpled thighs, a big bottom and curvy hips — all “flaws. ”

How sad is that?

Even at my thinnest, I didn’t feel comfortable in a bathing suit.

Completely depressing. I’ve always admired women who sported bikinis and rocked them, exuding confidence I could only dream of … but that isn’t me.

And since becoming a mom, I’ve done my best to avoid the beach/pool … which, surprisingly, hasn’t been that hard (til now).

First, Maya was born in the winter and we couldn’t start swim lessons til she was 6 months old — so I made Luis get in the pool with her most of the time, saving me the embarrassment of swim lessons at the Y.

Second, pools are rare here in Michigan, so I never had to worry about tons of pool parties–the few we’ve gone to have been poolside vs. “pool”. (“Safe and secure,” in my mind).

And finally, last summer we got a pass at beachin’ it because I was very pregnant and we had just moved, so literally every weekend was shot with moving/unpacking/organizing.

But now that Maya is older and has been exposed to lots of pools and beaches, we see a lot more swimsuit-appropriate activities in the future: water parks, pool parties, beach trips … Kids love the beach, sand, surf. And we live in a part of the country full of great lakes (pardon the pun) … so there’s really no excuse for me anymore.

And so I’ve known for a while that I’d need to put aside my issues and just do it: pony up and wear a bathing suit in public. On beach vacations over the past few years I’ve felt slightly less miserable in a swimsuit; probably because I was 1) with my family and 2) in places where I knew no one (Jamaica and El Salvador).

Which brings me to this week in California.

I’m not my thinnest–far from it–but I’m a mom of two kids now … but I’m a mom who doesn’t want to be sidelined. Marginalized. Left out of the fun. I want to splash and jump and swim and play without worrying someone is judging me (chances are, they’re not: their nose is buried in a book, they are chasing their toddler, or they are sipping their fourth fruity drink of the day … not paying attention to my noticeable lack of a thigh gap).

And so I just said, “the hell with it” and ignored the voices inside my head and wore a swimsuit and played with my kids.

What’s funny is I’d been drafting this post in my head while on vacation ever since I saw this pic my mom had taken, when a similar post by blogger Jessica Turner came blasting through my Facebook newsfeed from all angles.

Of course, I was away without a laptop and haven’t had a chance to sit down til now, but I wanted to share my own swimsuit photo, taken in Carlsbad, Calif. on June 17.
IMG_1441

Granted, it’s not a full body shot and I realized after the fact I am, indeed, wearing a sarong (we’d crossed the street to the beach and it had gotten chilly at dusk) but the point is, I love how happy I look and felt in this moment, holding my sweet baby boy while the gentle, salty Pacific breeze caressed our sun-kissed skin.

I don’t know if I’ll ever truly “not care” while wearing a swimsuit or ever be genuinely comfortable in my own skin, but for the sake of my children, I am going to fake it til I make it. If you’re feeling doubts yourself, I hope you’ll join me (and Jessica Turner) in this “mission.” We have nothing to lose … except millions of potential memories with our kids.

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2 thoughts on “Moms and Swimsuits … what’s the big deal? (If only …)

  1. You look great. Thank you for this. I have felt the same way for so long and have just now in the last few years really just been able to let the insecurities go and have fun. It doesn’t ever fully go away but you can get to the point where you are comfortable in your own skin. I have been drafting a post like this in my head as well, hope to get it written soon. Thanks again for sharing!

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