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From Me to Oprah, Week 3: What’s Your Bikini?

December 28, 2009

I finally did it…I bought a bikini for the first time in I don’t even know how many years. While I consider myself active and fit (relatively speaking, of course..I can’t climb mountains, or run marathons, but I do sweat when I exercise several times a week), my body is far from perfect. Part of me feels that despite losing and keeping off more than 30 pounds for years, my body is not truly bikini worthy, so buying one for me was uncharacteristic and at the same time, monumental.

Admittedly, I have always felt that wearing a bikini should be reserved only for those who are slim. But anytime I’ve looked around at  ladies, young and old, at the beach or at a pool wearing a bikini, I’ve observed a wide variety of body shapes and sizes. Sometimes I have said to myself  “she looks great in that,” and at other times, I’ve asked myself  “how can she seriously think that looks good on her?” I’m ashamed to admit it, but I can’t help making judgments when I see women who wear bikinis like they own them, even when they don’t, at least in my mind, fit well. (Perhaps all women secretly–or in some cases not so secretly– do this? Or is it just me?)

Maybe when I’ve looked at all the bikini-clad women, what I was doing was not judging them so much as measuring myself against them. If I can’t wear a bikini, how could someone bigger or heavier than me wear one? Maybe here’s where I’ve gone wrong all these years…even though I have always felt proud of my weight loss and have come to terms with and even feel relatively good about my body, the overweight, insecure teenager inside me rears her head at times, and perhaps my own lingering feelings of  inadequacy about my own body has made me pass judgment (if only in my own mind) on others; I know that’s what has also made me stick to one piece bathing suits despite my weight loss and the fact that I have maintained a healthy body weight.  Maybe the women who wear bikinis are truly comfortable revealing themselves, and who am I to pass judgment on them and say they’re too heavy, or have too large a belly to wear a bikini? Perhaps instead I should applaud them for having enough confidence to wear what they want in public despite what anyone thinks.

I’m not really sure what prompted me to buy a bikini…but accidentally forgetting to pack my bathing suits for a family trip to Florida this week provided me wih an opportunity to go bathing suit shopping (not my favorite pasttime). So we went to a local department store. After I tried on countless suits, my husband decided his favorite was the one blue bikini I slipped into. Despite my reluctance and hesitation, I bought it. When we got back to our hotel room, I cemented the transaction by ripping off the tags and having my husband take a photo of me wearing the blue bikini. I then compared that photo with a photo I keep in my wallet…it’s one of the overweight, seventeen year-old me wearing a one piece suit, taken when I  worked as a waitress at a so-called “fat camp.” Some have asked why I carry the  photo in my wallet…I do it  because I find the photo of the old me empowering. It makes me realize how far I’ve come over the years and how exercise and regular fitness (alongside more healthful eating habits) have helped me transform my body despite gravity, giving birth to two children, and being 40.

I may not have a perfectly toned, trimmed, flawless body, but if the bikini fits, I have decided that yes–I’m going to wear it. So what’s your bikini? Is it running a race? Hiking a mountain? Doing a triathalon? Wearing skinny jeans? Becoming an actor? Identify what it is you’ve been avoiding, or telling yourself you can’t do, or wear, or be and either do it, wear it, or try to become it. Go outside your comfort zone, outside the box in which you live. If you challenge yourself and take a risk, you may surprise yourself and learn something along the way. I know I have. Ask yourself “what am I waiting for” and be bold, take a chance. If not in 2010, then when?

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