I bought a new bikini from J.Crew this year in hopes that I could trade in my tankini during my beach vacation for something more comfy, not as tight or so drapy. The best part of being at the beach is the breeze on your skin and if your whole belly is covered by stretchy bathing suit material, it defeats the purpose.
But folks, I don’t look the way I used to in a bikini. I’m 40. And you know what, maybe I never looked that great in a bikini ever, except for maybe that one year after my divorce because stress can thin you down just like a good stomach bug will. Okay. So I’m thick in the middle. Dimples around my belly button that my children might mistake for added belly buttons. I’m like Chandler with the third nipple. Say hello to my little mummy tummy.
The feminist in me says, fuck it. I’m comfortable with my body. Fine with it, in fact. My genes do not help my mummy tummy cause. There are some women who can gain weight and still look good in a bikini. Their ass gets it. Maybe their arms. I am not a big person. But my weight goes right to my middle. This is just the way I’m built. No hips. No waist. I exercise, I work on my core. But my efforts don’t seem to make much of a dent.
And I’m not complaining. Really! I’m just stating the facts. At a certain age you have to look at yourself in the mirror and accept what you have. Either that, or spend an awful lot of money in plastic surgery. (Kidding.) (Sort of.) But this is not just a certain age mentality. This is an EVERY AGE mentality. I’m not going to allow my daughter –or my son–to subscribe to cultural messages that thinner is better. I don’t diet. I eat healthy. Sometimes I eat coffee ice cream sodas (like I did last night). And that’s what I want to show my kids.
But I can give my children healthy body image messages and still have my own insecurities, right?
In her book The Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf wrote:
“A cultural fixation on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty but an obsession about female obedience”
At the end of this decision is my comfort. I’m wearing a bikini because I want to. I’m comfortable with my body in a sexual nature, in a physical nature, in a healthy nature. Yes, that even means the fat rolls in my belly and the dimples in my ass. This is why I appreciate Julia Roberts’ body. She looks amazing. She does not look like Victoria Beckham. See what I’m saying? So if I’m not going to allow the picture of a woman in magazines to dictate what I think I should look like, then I’m certainly not going to allow photos of women in bikinis dictate what I’d like to look like in a bikini. Unless that photo is of Julia Roberts. Because how adorable is she?
So here I go… off to the beach. With my adorable bohemian-inspired, paisley bikini top.
Better wear sun screen on my mummy tummy. ‘Cause it’s bound to get burned.