Well, it’s official. I wear bikinis. I weigh a cheeseburger or two over 200 pounds, and I wear bikinis in front of other people. It started with family, but now a few of my close and more skin-tolerant friends have been subjected to the display. And you know what? No one has puked yet at the sight of my stretch marks and extra jiggle. They notice. They say something, because size 16 women who have had twins do not wear bikinis most of the time, so it’s worthy of note. Also, they know me well enough to know that if they said nothing, I would assume that they were horrified. I can read more negative stuff into someone’s silence than anyone else I know. It’s a gift.
Last summer I wore a swim dress. Yeah, that skirt kind of bathing suit, the kind that covers as much of the body as it is possible to cover while still calling the garment a bathing suit. I think maybe in a weird way, I would look fatter in a swim dress at this point than I do in a bikini. By just putting it all out there, well, it’s just out there. Under a swim dress, it would look like I was trying to hide something.
I’m done hiding.
A couple of nights ago, I put on one of my new bikinis and took some photos with the timer function on my little point-and-shoot camera. I know what I look like—my bathroom has floor-to-ceiling mirrors, so every time I get out of the tub, there I am (seriously, what crazy person thought that was a good idea for a master bathroom?!)—but that image in the mirror doesn’t always translate to photos. I often see photos of myself and gasp in horror, wondering who the hell that fat old lady is and what she’s doing wearing my clothes. So before I lined up a photo shoot with my sister to do a “Swimsuit Edition” of this blog, I wanted to make sure I was really ready to show the world photographs of my body (where by world, I mean the 100ish people who read this blog, most of whom already love me).
The photos were great. They show what is. Strong muscles and a healthy body under a generous layer of fat. A woman who has given birth and shows the scars. It’s not scary or horrible. It’s a very average kind of body. Compared to how I looked a year ago, I look awesome. Compared to women who usually wear bikinis, I look like a whale. But I am so very done comparing myself to other women. Done. If I can forget what I know (or what I think I know) about how I’m “supposed” to look, it is so much easier to feel beautiful and comfortable in my skin.
In a weird way, wearing a bikini makes me less conscious of my fat. In my swim dress last summer, I spent more effort than seems reasonable worrying about whether my thighs looked fat. I weighed 230 pounds. It’s fair to say my thighs looked fat. But I would try to sit in ways that would keep them from squashing out and looking bigger, or I would just bypass the issue and stay standing, or recline so I could arrange my legs in the classic “one leg slightly more bent than the other” pose that somewhere along the line women learn is the most thigh-flattering. In the swim dress my thighs were the only part of me that anyone could see, and they’re not my best feature. In my bikini, everyone can already see everything. I am almost naked. What’s the point of trying to pretend I am not fat? I am exactly the size I am. Who cares?
This bikini experiment has been one of the most liberating and empowering things I have ever done for my body image. If you’ve ever even remotely considered it, and even if you haven’t, I encourage you to find a bikini.
Buy a bikini. Rock your bikini. Because our bodies are beautiful. If you feel sexy and gorgeous in your bikini, you ARE sexy and gorgeous in it. I believe that with my whole heart. Nothing is as beautiful as confidence and self-love. Good posture, a smile, and a look in your eye that says, “You wish all of this was yours.” That is all you need. You don’t need to lose 15 or 30 or 50 pounds to wear a bikini. You just need to lose self-loathing. Losing weight is way easier, but until you love yourself, you will never be thin enough or young enough or pretty enough. The minute you know you are beautiful, you are enough. Just as you are.
So be on the lookout later this summer for the Pam-a-rama ding dong Swimsuit Edition. I’m not going to post my no-makeup, post-shower test shots done in crappy lighting with a consumer camera on a 10 second timer, even though they are totally hot. Because I am fabulous and a diva and only professional photography can properly capture what I am trying to convey. But rest assured, bikini shots ARE coming to this blog. Soon.