I feel like I should begin this post with an apology and expression of nerves and fear. But I’d be lying if I did that. And I’d be buying into a notion that women of a certain age or size or fitness or shape should make excuses for their bodies, should apologize for the space they inhabit and the view they demand.
I’m not sorry. Or embarrassed. Or fearful. In fact, I’m excited. Excited to be given a platform to talk about women, particularly mothers, and swimwear and girl *ahemwomenahem* power and embracing this amazing, life giving, awesome body that I get to claim as my own.
I don’t see it as flawed. Or imperfect. Sadly, I can’t say that I’ve always felt that way. In fact, in many respects, when my body was most “perfect” (by society’s standards, anyway), I was the most critical and ashamed. But perspective and experience and giving birth to other female bodies has changed that. And I’m saddened that that is not more universally the case for women and mothers. I hear friends and colleagues and female acquaintances express frustration and disappointment about their bodies. Excuses. Wishes. Goals. Rarely do I hear women champion and celebrate the body that they are in here and now. And it’s a heartbreaking reality of the impossible beauty standards we put on women, of the way that we claim women as bodies and pieces rather than whole beings who are more than their thighs or their tummies or their hips or their butts or their chests or numbers on a scale.
Do I sometimes find myself analyzing one particular piece of my body, questioning if it could be “better” (read: thinner) and thus thinking about exercising more and eating less, trying to mold that part of me into someone else’s notion of what it “should” look like? Sure, absolutely. But then I tell that socially constructed, woman hating part of my mind to shove it. And I go eat an ice cream cone with my daughters, or on a walk with friends, or cozy up with our latest book club novel.
Over the course of the next month, I’m going to be rolling out a series of posts of me rocking various bathing suits and talking about women and daughters and mothers and bodies and fear and expectation and health and beauty and all the nonsense wrapped up in the image of a woman in a bathing suit.
While in Florida earlier this year, I posted the top photo of me with the girls wearing a recent swimsuit purchase. I was surprised by the number of emails I received asking me about the suit, complimenting me for my “brave” choice to post it on the Internet, and asking me to talk more about that choice.
Look, I’m not brave. First responders, our men and women in the military, doctors, The President – these are people that we can call brave.
I’m just a mama wearing a swimsuit next to a pool in Florida with her kids.
But I do have feelings about this, because I know in the eyes of many this is seen as brave. I know that many women avoid bathing suit season like the plague and go to great lengths to hide, conceal, or altogether avoid being seen out in public in a bathing suit. And, dude, the summer is just too hot for that nonsense. It pains me that women are embarrassed or ashamed or apologetic about their bodies as though their bodies are anybody’s business but their own!
I was fortunate to have a childhood growing up sailing and swimming and diving all summer long, which fed into summer jobs as a sailing instructor, so from age 8 to 24, I lived in a swimsuit as part of my daily life from June-August. I am very very comfortable parading around in a swimsuit, as I’ve been so conditioned to do so. But friends and other women have commented on this apparent confidence, especially as my body has become less and less “acceptable” and the prescribed ideal of what a woman is supposed to look like in order to wear a swimsuit in public.
I say PHOOEY to that noise.
If I’m going to enjoy the summer, I best be outside soaking up as much Vitamin D as possible and lounging by a body of water, and the optimal wardrobe for that is indeed a swimsuit.
I don’t pretend like my body hasn’t changed, especially since carrying, birthing and breastfeeding two children, but that doesn’t mean I can’t find a suit that fits my current body shape and still makes me feel confident and sexy and ready for the practical demands of fun in the sun with two kids.
I have suits from my pre-baby years, and suits from my pregnancy/maternity/breastfeeding years, but I hadn’t invested in swimsuits for post-breastfeeding, post-pregnancy, preschool-kid toting life. While on a work trip in Florida, I had an afternoon to myself and a boutique overflowing in bathing suits at my disposal. I spent two hours scouring the racks, trying on suit after suit, and ultimately landed on this gem from Miraclesuit called the Network Jena. It was, in a word, fantastic. Fantastic color. Fantastic style. Fantastic fit. It held my body in place so that I didn’t have to worry about a rogue boob flopping out of the suit mid-leap into the pool or dive into the ocean. I could chase and play and splash with my girls without readjusting straps and fidgeting and constant attention to what I was wearing. Instead I could just be, in the sun, on the beach, by the pool, and feel great.
I reached out to Miraclesuit about partnering for this column as I think about how to raise my daughters as women with healthy body image and balanced perspective on beauty and health and wellness constantly, and this suit and people’s reactions to it, gave me a new angle and food for thought. And because after trying on more styles by Miraclesuit, I am convinced that this brand knows how to design bathing suits for women of all shapes, sizes, and ages. And that is what we deserve. And maybe that confidence in finding a suit that is stylish and well-made and cut for one’s body properly regardless of size will help us women reclaim a place that is less about fitting society’s mold of beauty and more about celebrating who we are as unique individuals with life experiences that have literally shaped the very appearance of those bodies.
Maybe it’s a stretch, but never underestimate the power of a confident, carefree woman.
Here are some images of me wearing the Network Jena at Barton Springs Pool during our trip to Austin, TX last month. I’ll roll out more thoughts and styles next week, but hop to the bottom of the post for your chance to win a Miraclesuit of your choosing. And I’d love to hear your thoughts about any or all of the above ramblings. Thanks for joining me in this month long exploration, and remember, as cheesy as it may sound, you are, indeed, a miracle.
They’ll be three opportunities to win a Miraclesuit or Magicsuit of your choosing over the next month. That’s a winning of up to $180, three times! To enter this week’s giveaway follow the instructions below via Rafflecopter. Thank you for entering and for liking Blog a la Cart and Miraclesuit on Facebook and for following @blogalacart and @miraclesuitswim on Instagram. We’ll see you next week!
a Rafflecopter giveaway