I am eating a package of Oreos as I write this post. That fact cracks me up given the topic at hand.
I read this beautiful post by Sarah Bessey last fall after I'd filled in the 40 blanks that became the 4040 list. I recognized myself in her essay, but not for mainstream reasons.
I've abhorred the word skinny for years. It sounded derogatory to my ears. I preferred lithe, svelte, willowy. But the truth is: I am skinny. Accepting that is huge: I AM SKINNY.
I haven't worn a bikini since before my daughter was born almost eight years ago, and certainly never wore one with any great confidence. My shoulders slumped to camouflage my flat chest. I kept my chin lowered and hid underneath towels. People not built like me may find this hard to understand. For women who struggle with their weight, I imagine their struggle is about feeling like they have or are too much. When a woman is underweight, the message she hears is she is NOT ENOUGH. For years, despite having the measurements of a runway model, I heard society's message tell me I wasn't enough because I had no cleavage, no curves, and have a flat ass. When I had to have a c-section, people later said that the c-section confirmed what they had thought all along: that I was too small to deliver her on my own. A c-section confirmed that my baby wasn't in a good position for a safe and natural delivery. That is all it confirmed.
For readers who struggle with losing weight, my perspective must seem aggravating to read. "You can eat whatever you want." "You can wear whatever you want." Neither of these statements are true. I have a family history of high cholesterol. There is such a thing as skinny fat, and I'm not interested in falling into that category. I watch what I eat to ensure that my food choices do not contribute to heart disease or high cholesterol. I wear a button down top with darts and they cave in. I can't hold up a strapless dress.
So back to the bikini. Like every woman who has given birth, I am marked by my pregnancy eight years ago. My belly, though blessedly flat, has a definite wibble. And why wouldn't it? I carried an extra 60 pounds and had three times the amniotic fluid of normal pregnancies. I previously believed that for that reason the wibbly belly should remain covered forevermore. And then I read Sarah's post and decided to reconsider my position on this particular woman in a bikini. I'm done listening to the messages that only a certain woman's shape is desirable or acceptable.
Yoga, running, and tennis have reintroduced me to my body. As it turns out, I am strong. My arms and core keep me afloat above my mat in chataranga during my daily Sun Saluations. (This took more than three years to achieve.) My long legs propel me forward as I train for my race. My back shows the muscled definition of thousands of downward dogs and other yoga poses.
This summer as my daughter drags me to the pool because she she still loves her body and how it feels to splash, dive, and swim in the pool, I will be wearing this.
I will be owning it. Pool side. Sunglasses shading my eyes. Book in my lap. A 40-year-old woman in a bikini.