The last time I wore a swimsuit I was about four months pregnant and taking my oldest to swimming lessons.
The whole process was awkward. It was too tight in all the wrong places while being too loose everywhere else. I tried to go as conservative as possible and get a one piece. But I felt so insecure that I couldn’t shake the irrational fear that someone might tell me I needed to change outfits or leave the pool.
Of course, there wasn’t much I could do. But at that moment, my rapidly changing size made me doubt what was appropriate for a “bigger woman” at a public pool, especially one where other parents and children were splashing about.
Over those two weeks that swimming lessons lasted, I spent way too much time apologizing for the way my swimsuit fit. In retrospect, I realize I had nothing to apologize for, but my anxiety left me on high alert, and I didn’t want to be perceived as the indecently dressed lady with the thick thighs and the high cut one piece. So I dropped random unsolicited statements about being pregnant. I hoped that what I was saying would help someone realize that my figure could be explained by other forces (namely, the baby growing in my belly).
I was really uncomfortable with my body and I couldn’t help but daydream about the days after giving birth, back to my usual size and able to fit into a swimsuit appropriately.
Fast forward a year…I have given birth. I’m no longer pregnant. And yet my swimsuits still fit weird and my belly is clearly visible. I haven’t lost much body fat, but one huge weight I have shed is the self-imposed burden of trying to have a “swimsuit body.”
As a woman, I’m under pressure to have a certain body type year-round. Still, is there any part of the year that puts more pressure on us to be “snatched” than summer?
Since starting my motherhood journey nearly four years ago, I’ve been searching high and low for an excuse for why I haven’t made it back to my pre-baby body.
This year, I’m not even worried about it.
The world is going to get whatever is in this swimsuit. Because I have a swimsuit and a body. So YES, I already have a swimsuit body.
This summer season, I’m hitting unfollow, unfriend, and block on all the folks posting their weight loss supplements saying, “It’s never too early to get started for next year” and other low-key fatphobic posts I catch on my timeline.
I can’t say exactly why I’ve stopped worrying about being “summertime fine” or making my “post-baby snap back” debut. Perhaps I’ve stopped caring because the newfound stress I’m experiencing as a mother of two kids is challenging AF and leaves me with no time for such nonsense. It could be the fact that in my section of the Midwest, summer is so fleeting that I’d miss the full two weeks if I waited until I reached my body goals. Or maybe it’s as simple as me having an IDGAF attitude because I’d rather get this high energy three-year-old out of the house than worry about how I look in a swimsuit. Of course, there’s always the chance it’s a good mix of all three.
But one thing I do know is I got 99 problems, and the pursuit of a “summer body” ain’t one.
Since giving birth a second time, I’ve gone through the awkward process of learning about a body that I’m connected to but not familiar with. Everything from my bladder to my hips feels unfamiliar and before I take the time to change it, I need to understand it.
The truth is, I don’t need an excuse.
Ironically, I’m more health conscious now than I’ve ever been in my life. This time around, I’m more concerned with a health-focused lifestyle change than a seasonal diet. I’ve been around long enough to know that size doesn’t necessarily equal health.
Monitoring other people’s weight is just another way we overlook the “my body my rights” perspective that we are all trying so hard to fight for.
Thankfully, there have been a lot of body positivity campaigns in the last few years. They’ve done a great job of displaying size diversity and giving us the words to fight negative messages. Still, campaigns aren’t enough to cancel centuries of socialization and fighting those messages will take a hell of a lot of intentional effort.
This go round, I plan to be more obsessed with fun than my fat. I’m going to remember that my children won’t remember me for the dimples I got when I wear my short shorts, but they will remember if I made excuses to stay in the house because I cared too much about body stigma.
Who knows if a return to my pre-baby body is in my future? I’d imagine not; I’m not the same person I was before having a baby. But instead of spending time on the scale, my time will be better spent enjoying the sun with my son.
I’m gonna live it up for the full two weeks of summer (haha) we get in my part of the country regardless of what size I am. And this time, I plan to do it with no excuses.