A few weeks ago, according to the oddly addictive blogger stats page, someone found my blog by typing “200 pounds bikini” into google. Curious, I tried that search, and then immediately wished I hadn’t. The first result was Urban Dictionary’s entry for “bikini beef,” the extra bulges resulting “when the wearer exceeds the legal bikini wearing limits.” The second result was someone relatively thin asking the Yahoo Answers community how she looks in a bikini, with a bunch of strangers criticizing her body in response. Results 3 and 4 were people talking about losing weight in order to be able to wear a bikini. My “Rock your bikini” post was #5. The 6th link was a female blogger who feels “VERY STRONGLY” that there should be a size limit on bikinis, using words like “disgusting” to describe women like me.
I am very glad that my perspective is in that mix.
I’m all for being fit. It is important to me to exercise and eat intelligently so I can be here for my kids and give them a good model of healthy behavior. Despite what my generous proportions might imply, I take care of my body and treat it with respect. I am 37 years old and I weigh 200 pounds, and I am healthier and in better shape now than I was at 20 when I weighed 140.
And I actually think I am more beautiful now than I was then. Maybe not by any objective criteria, but there is a spark in me that has grown over the years into an inferno.
It’s my life force. My energy. My chi. My sexiness. My confidence. My mojo. It’s the thing Maya Angelou is talking about in "Phenomenal Woman." It’s That Thing. I didn’t really have it at 20, or if I did, it was still mostly curled up asleep. But I have it now. And it’s awake and alive and expanding every day. It’s spilling out through my skin and my eyes and my breath. And I believe with every fiber of my being that it is That Thing that makes a woman beautiful. We all have it in us. It just needs to be invited and nourished.
It’s fair to say that this bikini experiment has changed my life. I wear a size 16 and I carried twins to nearly 37 weeks. It would be very easy to find things to hate about my body. But the more I have shown it, the more I love it. This body has been good to me. It carries my brain around and mostly does what I ask it to do. It has given me so many amazing gifts: that feeling of pleasant soreness the day after a workout, the smell of fresh basil and a sun-warm tomato, the sound of my children’s laughter, the view of a sunset on the Amalfi coast, the wild abandon of dancing all night, the taste of a perfect kiss. This body gave me my children. And it is beautiful. Even in a bikini.
It bulges in some places and sags in others. Does anyone really think that makes me less beautiful? Isn’t that the craziest thing you’ve ever heard? Nothing… NOTHING can make us less beautiful unless we allow it to.
Photography by the amazing Rebecca Palmer at Lifescapes Photography. The photos are retouched for razor burn and child-inflicted bruises, but my body shape, bulges and all, has been left 100% untouched by Photoshop.