The Polka Dot Bikini
It seems that most bloggers, when sharing a swimsuit post for the first time, feel the need to disclaim something about their body or their insecurity in the suit. As if they’re not allowed to be confident in these photos they’ve chosen to share with the whole of the internet. But I’m not going to do that today, because in all honesty, I had a hard time paring down the amount of photos I wanted to share.
Five years ago, it might have been a different story. I would have been embarrassed to even look at a swimsuit like this much less put it on my body and model it in front of other beach-goers at a public park. Five years ago, I would never have posted a photo of myself in a swimsuit on the internet. I can only find one photo of me in shorts that was willingly posted.
But today? Today I feel like a fairy beach goddess and I think these photos are beautiful.
The contrast between how I am now and how I was five years ago is tremendous. Five years ago, I was fifty pounds lighter but thought I was too chubby, being heavier than most of my friends and not understanding that our builds were just different. I have muscular legs and a curvy butt, and many of my friends are built leaner and more athletically. Where they had size 2 or 4 legs and looked willowy in swimsuits, I jiggled and had far more cellulite than any one of them, in my eyes.
Five years ago I would have been terrified to even be seen in public in a suit like this, let alone posing for a camera and planning to post blog photos. I would have been embarrassed that I have gained fifty pounds and my thighs are lumpy, that my butt is jiggly, that my belly is round from having babies. I would have been embarrassed that the cut of this top shows off some of my back fat. I would have been far too insecure to be this pale on a beach and I would have kept my arms securely crossed around my middle to hide some of myself from being so visible.
All I would have noticed about these photos would have been the flaws. The cellulite, the bruises, the armpit fat, the soft belly and lumpy thighs. I would have deleted so many of the photos from this session for showing all of the things I criticized about my body. I likely wouldn’t have let anyone take photos of me in the first place.
But today? Today, I don’t care. Today I want my beautiful daughter, who excitedly points at these pictures and exclaims “mama!!!” to realize that having a body, any body, is okay. I want my daughter to understand that I am working hard on being STRONG, not striving to fit a magazine’s standard of what beautiful is. I want to be a good example of how to show yourself love even as you work hard to be a better person.
I want my son to see me, in all of my cellulite, stretch marks, and chubby-thighed glory, and realize that he should treat women the way I treat myself: with love and respect for this body that has borne me two children and houses so much love for so many people around me. I want him to see beauty in others, and not criticize their flaws immediately as I am sometimes wont to do with myself.
I want people around me to see me enjoying myself, I want them to see that I’m not just enduring being photographed but actually having fun with it. I want people to be encouraged that they don’t have to hide themselves if they’re 20 or 50 or 100 pounds heavier than they want to be at that moment.
I want to honor this body that God made me by being healthy, by being strong, and by accepting it as it is in this moment. I want to pursue energy and stamina, and not the world’s idea of a perfect body.
I want to recognize the beauty my husband sees in me right now.
So, not only did I pose for photos in a bikini, for literally the first time ever, but I enjoyed it. I laughed. I struck many poses. I had a hard time choosing just two to share. And I hope that this encourages someone, somewhere, to forget about all those nagging insecurities and to enjoy life in your body, the way it is right now. Because we are full of so much more than just having perfect bodies and smooth skin. We are worth SO much more than how we look.
And happiness is a beauty that shines far brighter than the lumps on our thighs, the stretch marks on our hips, or the fat we have gained by living life.