I don’t remember when exactly I decided I didn’t like wearing bathing suits but I do remember the first time someone publicly commented about my body in a nasty, negative way.
A boy at my Hebrew school, who I kind of liked, called me a cow.
Then he mooed at me.
I was in 4th or 5th grade.
And while I’d certainly thought about my body before, whether I was thin enough or pretty enough, no one had ever directly insulted my body.
I laughed it off because that’s what I do.
But it stung.
I’m guessing it was around the same time that I stopped wanting to wear bathing suits in public. While I’m not placing all of the blame on that one interaction, it definitely impacted how I felt about my body. And also how I believed other people felt about my body.
One thing I am certain about is that this kicked off a strong hatred of my belly that would last for decades after.
Despite this, as I grew up, I preferred wearing 2 piece bathing suits.
I felt like they were slightly more flattering.
Plus, I felt like I could more easily cover myself up in them.
I often begged off of trips to the beach or pool parties so I wouldn’t have to wear a bathing suit around other people.
And if I did go, I usually kept most of my clothes on and didn’t get into the water, unless I was around friends I really trusted.
The crazy thing was that when I look back at pictures of myself in bikinis then, I don’t see the fat, ugly body I believed I had. Instead, I see a very thin, very sad, very unhealthy girl.
I made myself sick trying to fit into the standard of health and beauty that we’ve set for girls and women.
I missed out on a lot of fun because I was afraid to wear a bikini in public.
When I was in my teens and early twenties, I didn’t really believe I had a bikini body.
One of the greatest gifts that pregnancy gave me was falling in love with my body in a variety of sizes and shapes.
The experience of being both pregnant and postpartum has taught me that my body is ALWAYS changing. My body isn’t meant to stay a specific size or shape. The really cool thing about my body is that she can grow and adapt and shrink and stretch and change shape.
The idea that I should look like 18 year old me forever and always is a problematic social construct.
And while I’ve certainly struggled with loving my postpartum body each time after I gave birth, I stopped caring so much about what other people thought about my body.
That’s a big deal.
It’s motivated me to share my belly more. This is part of why I often do posts on social media showing my belly, jiggles and all.
In some ways, it’s helping me reinforce to myself that I don’t care what other people think of my belly or my body. I love my body now more than ever, despite the fact that my body does not look the same way it did when I was skinnier and smaller.
I also do it because I want to normalize showing my body, and my belly specifically, without shame or guilt.
What I’ve realized in the past few years is that the size and shape of my belly is not an indicator of my strength. I am stronger than ever at 40 years old and as a mom of 3. My body might not look like the type of strength that sells magazines or movie tickets. And still, I’m strong.
To celebrate this, I decided to show my belly in an even bigger, more public way.
I created a video for my YouTube channel called Yoga for a Bikini Body, but it’s not quite what the title sounds like. Unless you think the title means I am doing the class wearing just a bikini. And then you’d be correct.
The thing is, lots of people teach “yoga for a bikini body” classes, but their intent is different. They want you to tone, trim, and tighten your tummy. Those “yoga for a bikini body” classes are about getting a flat tummy and losing weight so you look good in a bathing suit, according to the people who make the rules about this sort of thing.
My belief is that every body is a bikini body. If you want to wear a bikini, rock it. If you’d rather rock a one-piece, awesome. If you feel more comfortable not wearing a bathing suit at all, that’s fine, too.
Just don’t let someone else tell you what you can and can’t wear.
And don’t buy into the “yoga can fix my body” BS. You don’t need fixing. And that’s not what yoga is for, anyway.
Check out my Yoga for a Bikini Body video here: