I am a mom and I have the body to prove it.
My boobs are full, I have a C section scar and frankly, I haven’t seen my abs since 2002. I have stretch marks on my thighs, my waist and under my arms (seriously, what is THAT about?). My thighs are like tree trunks and do not even get me started on the size of my derriere.
I carry twenty extra pounds on my frame and I’m still hoping to some day lose the baby weight. Yes, I know my kids are ten and twelve. Shut up, a girl can dream, okay?
No amount of airbrushing, spray tanning, or body painting could recreate the appearance of the washboard abs I had when I was twenty.
On a regular day, my bras have enough underwire to keep a steel mill in business, my underwear rivals the corsets of the 1800s and words like “lacy” and “sexy” have been replaced with “sturdy” and “support”. Jeans with zippers make me twitch and I’ve all but given up on ever fitting in to anything I wore B.C (Before Children).
And yet, I still wear a bikini.
The summer after my son was born, I did the usual “Shop For The Perfect Mom Body Bathing Suit” routine. I searched the planet for a suit that had padding and adequate coverage. It had to be black. It had to support The Girls and it had to make me look 30 pounds lighter. And it had to have ruching. I don’t even know what ruching is but I knew I needed it to cover the evidence that I’d had a child and my body was the no longer “perfect”.
The perfect suit had to have a skirt on the bottom and a tank top. The skirt needed to be long enough to cover the fact that bikini waxing was not as frequent as I’d like and it needed to have two boob sized mattresses sewn in to disguise my ever erect breast feeding nipples.
I wound up looking like a 90-year-old Amish grandmother by the time I was done.
And, as much as I love the Amish and their sturdy furniture, I am not willing to spend one iota of time worrying about conforming to what people think a mom should wear to the pool. All of the searching and trying on and returning and debating and worrying and thinking about a stupid bathing suit just was NOT worth it to me. And seriously, WHAT IS RUCHING???
I like bikinis and so I wear them. Proudly. And you should, too.
My body has cohabitated with two humans for ten months at a time. I’ve completed six marathons. I nourished two babies with milk that I produced out of boobs that were the size of the Hoover Dam. My husband shoots me bedroom eyes more times in a week than I can count and frankly, I’m forty and my “Give A Damn” is broken.
I won’t wear a cover up to hide the stretch marks. I don’t care what you think of my soft, marshmallow abdomen. And, if you notice my erect nipples peeking through, you are spending too much time examining my boobs at the pool (seriously, dude, take a picture, it’ll last longer…).
Article after article is published about body image and raising confident daughters and feeling comfortable in our skin. We are bombarded with online magazines showing us celebrities looking amazing in tiny swimsuits thanks to airbrushing and villages of beauty consultants (suck it, Cheryl Tiegs). As soon as the much-loathed “Swimsuit Season” is upon us in May, our News Feeds are cluttered with ways to look your best, ads to buy swimsuits that magically shave off 50 pounds and images of women that are computer generated.
Screw that noise.
Why can’t we all just agree: wear what you want, when you want to the pool and let’s all have a jolly time during adult swim? To be honest, I’m more impressed by the woman who is walking to the snack stand in a bikini as her cottage cheese thighs swing behind her than I am by the woman who has washboard abs and weighs seventy pounds. I’m more impressed by the mom who strips off her cover up to reveal pendulous, milk laden breasts than the woman who is floating in the deep end thanks to her silicone implants.
Women willing to bear their flaws in the face of what society thinks are the women I want sitting at the next towel over from me. Because those are the women keeping it real and I raise my stretch marked arm to them in solidarity. I stand with them as we say, “This is me, this is what you get and if you don’t like it, go stare at the Barbie floating in the deep end” (no disrespect to Barbie…I’m sure she’s very nice).
Now, if anyone needs me, I’ll slapping some sunscreen on my lily white stomach as I settle my wobbly thighs into my beach chair to watch my kids frolic in the pool.
Oh, and PS: if you do know what ruching is, don’t bother telling me. These abs are doing just fine in the bright, warm summer sun.
Christine Burke is The Keeper of The Fruit Loops, Manager of The Fecal Roster and Driver of The People Mover. In other words, she’s a mom. She writes about life with her Hubby and two Fruit Loops on her blog, Keeper of The Fruit Loops and can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram! You can also check out her latest books!
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