“No excuses” was the caption attached to her mirror-reflected picture. The mom smiled with admiration at her tight abs glistening in the bathroom. She continued her post with how moms shouldn’t make excuses and her experience was proof that with some “hard work and effort” anyone can get a body just like hers.
I stewed with anger over the post. I’m so sick of and offended by these “What’s Your Excuse?” body-shaming posts because they prey on all of our vulnerabilities. The story we already play in our head is that we aren’t good enough, our bodies aren’t good enough, we haven’t lost the baby weight, and then — bam — here’s a post with “proof” that we aren’t good enough, not slim enough, not toned enough and certainly not ready for the pool or beach in our “condition.” No wonder we overanalyze our bodies and fear putting on our swimsuits in the summer. We picture all of the women on the beach looking up at us and saying, “What’s your excuse?” It’s hard not to let that self-deprecating voice win.
This is especially true during summer when we need to need to be soft with ourselves. Instead, we hold ourselves to unachievable standards. We tell ourselves we will be happy when we achieve a certain weight or size, or worse, we refrain from swimming or any activity in a swimsuit or summer clothes because, well, our bodies aren’t “beach ready.”
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These are the types of headlines you’ll find if you search for “beach-ready body.” No wonder we are hesitant to put on our swimsuits with all this unsupportive garbage. I have stretch marks, a large stomach fold, and my clothing size ranges between a 14 and 16. I work out, I’m physically strong, my body has birthed babies, and after almost 40 years, I’ve finally discovered that my worth as a woman and mom is not about my body size. I’m a confident person, yet those headlines and the “No excuses” posts make me second-guess my body. In a garbage haystack of body-shaming headlines, the body-positive articles about beach-ready bodies are the proverbial needle in the haystack. I just wanted to find an article that said, “Hey Mama, just be you. A perfect beach body is your body. Your body is swimsuit-ready.” Since I didn’t find that online, I’m just going to say it to you right now.
A perfect beach body is your body.
Your body is swimsuit-ready. No special foods. No crazy abdominal workouts. Just be you. Put on your swimsuit. You deserve to be at the pool. You belong at the beach. Loving our bodies as they are, and living a full life, will teach our children the same.
What would we say yes to if we said no to the self-deprecating voices?
What if, instead of being shamed over our bodies in motherhood, we were supported? What if we found other things to talk about with women other than their body? What if all of us acknowledged that there wasn’t a standard look or size, and instead each of us was allowed to be and appreciate our bodies the way they are? What if we stopped lying to women that with certain diets or prescriptive workouts their bodies would be one certain way? What if we gave grace to ourselves and recognized our body’s path and strength in motherhood? What if more women unapologetically wore their swimsuit, stood in front at their exercise class, or even just wore shorts or a sleeveless shirt?
There is no one best body type.
There is no one particular standard body that women should strive for in order to feel complete, womanly, or even beach-ready. There is no prescription to fix you. You don’t need to be fixed. You are enough and valued. Your body deserves to be at the pool or beach. Your body is swimsuit-ready. Your body and kids are waiting.
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