As I was scrolling through Facebook the other day, I saw a post from Mindy Kahling that seemed to be directed at me. She posted pictures of herself looking amazing in bikinis and wrote, "IDK who needs to hear this but… WEAR A BIKINI IF YOU WANT TO WEAR A BIKINI. You don’t have to be a size 0. Have a great summer."
She was talking about me. I needed to hear that when I was staring at my bikini-clad body in my bathroom mirror, wondering if my mom bod was bikini ready. While I consider myself to be a confident person, generally, my body in a bikini is an exception. Being in a 2-piece makes me feel like that anxious, insecure teenager all over again; the one hiding under an over-sized t-shirt, deathly afraid of what people might say or think.
I've struggled with body issues since I was a child, and am in active recovery from an eating disorder, so it’s been hard to see my body change as the result of pregnancy, labor, delivery, and, you know, just time. But after nearly 41 years on the planet, and three pregnancies, my body will never be a size 0 again, my breasts will never be the same size, and my belly and thighs will never be scar- and stretch mark-free.
But, you guys: it’s hot AF outside. And my kids want to hit the pool! So, honestly, I’ll be damned if I’m going to let societal ideals about what a so-called bikini body should look like prevent me from wearing a cute 2-piece this summer. It hasn't been easy to get to this place, especially since I'm having to unlearn a lot of problematic and downright destructive messaging about what constitutes a "bikini body" and what is "attractive," but these days you can absolutely find me lounging around my backyard in a bikini.
My body is ready for that 2-piece, and so is yours, no matter what other people might think or say about it. But if you're not convinced just yet, here are a few signs your mom bod is ready to rock that bikini:
You Want To Wear A Bikini
It's OK to wear a bikini, if you want to. Your body is yours. So, if you want to wear a bikini, do it. Or don't! It's totally up to you. If you want to cover up, wear a burkini, or skip the beach, entirely, more power to you. Your body, your choice.
But if you want to wear a bikini, that's your sign that your body is "bikini ready." Because, in the end and always, that's all it really takes: a desire to wear whatever you want.
You Own A Bikini
Your bikini body is ready when you are. If you have a bikini, that is. If not, it's time to peruse the summer sales like I did, and find one you feel comfortable in.
You're Swimsuit Shopping
Swimsuit shopping is right up there with getting a Pap Smear or root canal on the list of things I never want to do. There's something about dressing room mirrors and lighting that make me feel like hot garbage. I've resorted to online shopping, or grabbing multiple suits from the Target clearance rack, so I can try them on in the comfort of my home.
But again, that's what works best for you! No matter how you shop for a bikini, if you are shopping for one it's a sign that you're ready to rock that 2-piece at the pool, beach, or just around your backyard.
It's Warm Outside
Everyone deserves to feel comfortable. Full stop. So if it's hot, wear that bikini if it helps you deal with the summer heat! Being a size 0 is not a prerequisite for staying cool.
You Love Your Mom Bod...
The messaging about "mom bods" is problematic at best. We're supposed to "bounce back" after having kids and love every part of our postpartum bodies. We're supposed to hide the physical evidence that we experienced pregnancy and wear our stretch marks with pride.
But I am proud of what my body can do. I’ve grown humans, fed them, held them, and loved them. I’ve run marathons and run through the sprinkler with my kids. I’ve battled chronic disease and skin cancer. I’m a warrior, and if this warrior wants to wear a bikini she's going to.
... Or You Have Some Mixed Feelings About It
At the same time, I don't love every single part of my so-called "mom bod." I think my breasts are too small and lop-sided, I have stretch marks, cellulite, and sagging skin. Two years after my youngest was born, I still haven't lost my "baby weight."
But I've realized that I don't have to completely love every single aspect of my body in order to wear a bikini. And neither do you. How we feel about our bodies is often complicated and, at least in my case, a work-in-progress. And that is OK! So if you aren't at "OMG I AM A GODDESS" level yet, hey, that's fine! You can wear that bikini anyway.
You Have SPF
My friends, I would be remiss if I didn't remind you to wear SPF every single day, especially when wearing a bikini and exposing areas of your body that don't regularly see the sun. Not only will it prevent sunburns and pre-mature aging, but it might just save your life.
You've Realized That All Bodies Are "Bikini Bodies"
Are you sensing a pattern, yet?
Every body is a so-called "bikini body." If you want to be, you are bikini ready. You don't have to be a certain size, weigh a certain amount, look a certain way, or reach any other arbitrary and socially contrived criteria in order to wear a 2-piece... or anything else, for that matter.
Enjoy the summer! Enjoy your kids enjoying the summer! And enjoy the body that made it all possible.
If you or someone you know has an eating disorder and needs help, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline at 1-800-931-2237, text 741741, or chat online with a Helpline volunteer here.