It’s feeling like spring today. Seventy-nine degrees, zero clouds, light breeze. YES, please! I currently sit in my back yard wearing short shorts and a bikini top. Seriously. I am. Give me all the rays.
First. A little background. Currently I’m in the midst of what seems like a never ending weight loss journey. Three years ago I tipped the scale. Obese. I was 28 years old and had to sit down to take a shower. So while my whole story is much more complicated, that background helps you understand where I am now. I gave birth to a baby, bought a gym, cleaned up my life, and lost ninety pounds. Whew. So, while I have this awesome new rocking body that I worked HARD for (and I am crazy proud of), I still have work to do physically and mentally.
Bikini season. Or tankini. Or one-piece. Maybe a cover up? At the very least, shorts. Or maybe no. Maybe you plan to spend the southern summer fully clothed. Whatever your reality is—at some point, you will be in the dressing room with our children. Or perhaps you’ll be in front of the mirror at home. Maybe you’ll stand in front of your spouse or sister asking, “What do you think? How does this look?” I urge you mommas, aunts, and sisters—please be mindful of what you say about your bodies and appearance.
It’s not easy, right? Summer means shaving your legs and revealing that winter skin to the sun for the first time. Summer means pool parties. Can’t hide cellulite in a bikini. Summer means packing up the chunky, forgiving sweaters and busting out the thin, sleeveless tanks that breath so the 110% humidity doesn’t melt you. All of these things can make even the most confident and self assured woman feel insecure and less than perfect.
I have stretch marks, saggy skin from pregnancy and being overweight, and cellulite all over the place. My arms still jiggle when I wave. And if I bend over to pick something up? I have rolls on rolls on rolls. If my jeans are too snug, I have visible love handles. Last year’s tan is long gone, and I haven’t had a pedicure in years. All of these are things I notice about myself on a daily basis. It doesn’t mean I am not comfortable in my own skin. However, it does mean that I, like all women, have some insecurities about my appearance. Those insecurities can come from a multitude of places. They very likely come from comments or opinions I heard other women make about their own bodies since I was a child.
We as moms have a responsibility to do our best to break this cycle. Instead of pointing out a flaw you see in yourself? I urge you to simply comment with something like, “I have always loved purple with my skin tone.” Instead of asking your spouse, “Does this make me look fat?” Simply say, “I love the way this top feels on my skin.” Accept compliments. And more importantly—believe them.
Stop seeking approval or confirmation or empathy. Start celebrating our bodies.
Changing our genes is not an option. We can’t go back and skip the years of tanning to avoid the wrinkles. We would never change our minds about having children to save our bellies and shrink our hips. However, we can speak positively about our bodies. Find fun ways to stay active with our kids. And teach them that the best kind of self care is self love.