I had a baby. Sure, I'm in good shape, but I have my flaws just as much as the next person. Putting on a bikini pre-Mom was tough for me, but I did it, so perhaps I wasn't as nervous as other women. After I had my daughter, I felt more self-conscious. People told me I was ridiculous and that I looked fine, but I didn't believe it. I had my daughter at the end of March, so the first Summer, even though I was back to my prebaby weight, I didn't want anyone to see me in a suit of any kind — I was strategic to say the least. The following Summer I spent sick and pregnant, and the pregnancy did not work out in the end, so a bathing suit wasn't on the table anyway. But then came last Summer.
I was in the best shape ever and recently separated from my ex-husband. I went to look through my Summer clothes, and there I saw them: my beloved old bikinis. I tried them on — hey, why not? I said — and they fit. Some were even a little big. Ah! Look at that, I thought. Maybe it's time to strut my stuff or, more likely, walk timidly on to the beach. The first time I wore a bikini out in public I felt like I had just achieved nirvana. I was unstoppable!
In my brain, "Eye of the Tiger" was playing, and even though none of the people on the beach minus my daughter knew who the heck I was, I imagined each and every person was clapping for me as I made my way through the sand. Of course, at the end of the day, I realized that not one single person cared if I wore nothing on the beach! I was a blip on the sand to these people.
And on that note, I encourage you, "Mom in t-shirt over her bathing suit" or "Mom wearing full-on uniform on beach" or "Mom wearing tankini because she has a few stray stretch marks and if she didn't, would prefer to wear a bikini":
Put that suit on! Wear whatever you want!
Reason 1: No One Cares
No one is waiting at the pool or beach for you to show up. Even your friends don't really care what you look like. You're not a supermodel or a movie star walking on stage. It's not a performance.
No one cares. Wear your suit with pride. I promise you people aren't snapping photos of you to share "People of Walmart" style. They're there to have fun, swim, and catch some rays, not analyze if you have a big butt, small butt, stretch marks, funny breasts, or no breasts!
Reason 2: Have You Seen the Other People on the Beach?
Look, I know I said no one cares, and it's true — no one cares, and no one will write home to their mother or father to talk about the mom with the stretch marks, flabby tummy, or saggy bum who wore a bathing suit today at the community pool. Still, if you've ever gone to a beach or community pool, you've seen some real "winners." And by winners I don't mean the average lady or man . . . I mean people with every single inch of their bodies including their genitals hanging out. I live near the shore, and I have seen bodies I wish I could forget. At the same time, though, I commend someone for saying exactly what I am telling you, which is "screw it!" It would be nice, of course, if they covered their parts better, but there's something admirable about a person who works the beach like a runway even if they're not runway material, because let's face it, how many of us are?
Remember, even if you think you look bad, I guarantee you that there is someone who looks worse. The truth might be cruel, but you all know I'm right!
Reason 3: Teach Your Children Pride and Confidence
Do you think it sends the right message to your kids when Mom's always avoiding the water or sitting down with her shirt on? Or even just jumping in but with the extralarge t-shirt? No. It doesn't. You're essentially saying, "I am not comfortable with my body in such a big way that it impacts my life. It impacts ME having fun!"
And if you're so uncomfortable with your own body, then perhaps your kids think that they should be too. A mom and dad (or mom and mom, or dad and dad) who are comfortable in their own skins and know how to relax shows kids how to be happy with who they are as well.
Wear your suit because 10 years from now when your child enters puberty, do you want him or her to feel ashamed about how his or her body might develop?
No, you don't.
Reason 4: T-Shirts in the Water Stink
Every time I've worn a t-shirt in the water, I end up walking out colder and more soaked. Plus, my t-shirts get ruined that way. It's just not as comfortable, and if your bathing suit fits that terribly that a t-shirt sounds like a better alternative, here's a suggestion: find a better-fitting suit. If that means going up a size or down a size, do it and don't care. Size is just a number — body confidence is worth more dollars than a million-dollar check.
Reason 5: Someone Else Will Find You Sexy
At least one person will find you sexy in that suit, and letting this person see you is worth that funny "Should I be doing this?" feeling. Your partner, or whomever, will find you an attractive catch in your suit with your hair wet and a smile on your face. It's sexy when people just don't care about what others think. It's sexy when people have fun without inhibition or fears that "someone's going to think my butt looks gross."
Even if you think you'd be better off invisible, I guarantee someone else finds you the apple of his or her eye. Shine on, beauty!
So pick out your favorite suit, whether it's a one-piece, two–piece, or whatever! Make sure your breasts and all the lady parts are comfortable and that you feel as good as you can or, preferably, amazing in your suit. If you need the support for the "girls," get sized and search for an underwire top. And if you're like me and one size on top and the other on bottom, invest in a good separates bikini.
When you're done, assure yourself that you're beautiful as you are, and then head out there and enjoy the good old days of Summer!