I celebrated the glorious weather this past weekend at my parent’s house on the lake, where I went swimming for the first time this summer.
And before I did, I performed the annual check that has become my own time-honored summertime ritual, as much a part of the season as grilled steaks and black fly bites.
I performed the bikini check.
I’m a bikini-wearer. I’ve always worn bikinis: I wore them when I was eighteen years old because I had a body I was proud to show off, and I wear them today at thirty-eight years of age because ... let me think ... why do I wear them today?
I wear them because I sincerely believe they are more flattering on my body shape than a one-piece suit. But more importantly, I wear them today because doing so, and doing so proudly even if I no longer have the body of an eighteen-year-old, feels something like an act of courage, even something like a feminist act.
As long as I can pass the check.
Is my bottom sufficiently covered? Are my girls sitting correctly? If I suck in my stomach, straighten my shoulders, lift my chin, and paste a big ole smile on my face, can I still feel comfortable?
This year I did. And I think I will for some time, not because I have found a secret fountain of youth or because I plan to embark on some crazy Madonna-esque workout, but because I truly believe that confidence and a big ole smile really does draw the eye away from rippled thighs.
I don’t feel completely unselfconscious in my bikini, but I force myself to wear it. And I resist the urge to spend the entire day walking backwards or running for a towel when I come out of the water.
Ironically, I probably feel more comfortable in my bikini today than I did when I was eighteen years old. I look at pictures of myself back then and marvel at how self-conscious I appear to be. What a waste! If I looked like that now in my bikini I’d never take the damn thing off!
I regret not enjoying my youthful body more back then and it is this regret that drives me to try and stay appreciative today. Thirty or forty years from now I do not want to look back at pictures of myself and wonder why I covered up what will undoubtedly look like a healthy and relatively youthful body.
This is my body, flaws and all, and I plan on stuffing it into a bikini for a very long time.
And one day I hope to be able to earn my diva moniker—I hope to be like one of the many bikini-clad European women I remember encountering on the beach where this picture was taken: aged, but unabashed and unapologetic for being so.
Photo courtesy of Don Mills Diva