It was a warm Caribbean night. The kids were asleep and the resort shops were open until midnight. After running after them in the pool all day, a solo, mini-shopping spree was just what the doctor prescribed.
I walked into a shop that brimmed with colour and Brazilian bathing suits. A beautiful young woman in her mid-twenties welcomed me and immediately asked me what kind of bather I was interested in. My eyes avoided hers as I skimmed the entire store: walls, racks, mannequins. Late night shopping is like drinking five cups of coffee- invigorating and electrifying.
I stopped in front of a gorgeous one piece – high neck in the front and a statement-making wide-open, ruffled back.
“Oh, that would be perfect for you,” the girl said shyly as her eyes tried to connect with mine through her thick rimmed glasses.
I stood behind the turquoise, velvety fitting room curtain. The one-piece fit like a glove. No saggy boob situation, a to-die-for back and enough bum coverage to let me cavort with the kids without any wardrobe malfunctions.
But as I tried to imagine what kind of earrings would go with the suit, my husband’s voice rang in the back of my mind. It was nagging me to no end.
“Why don’t you just buy a nice bikini… why do you no longer buy two pieces?”
I always asked myself the same question and the answer consistently came back the same – one pieces are having a moment and they look super chic. Truth is, I had found the perfect reason to keep my mommy body under wraps.
As I twirled around the changing room in my ankle socks and bathing suit, I peeked through the curtain to ask the store keeper for a mint coloured bikini. She raised her eyebrows and obliged.
Once I put it on and she came in to perform the almighty fit check, I couldn’t hide my self-consciousness. I arched my back, stuck out my tummy and told her that I didn’t know if my body, which had grown and nurtured three lives, was ready for a two piece.
“Oh honey, that’s nothing the Doctor can’t fix,” she said in Spanish, “a little nip here, a little tuck there and you’ll be back to your old looks.”
A big, fat, sinking feeling set into my chest.
I had never ever felt like I had aged much. I never ever felt like I had no control over my body. All of a sudden, I experienced a moment of hopelessness.
As my eyes scanned every stretch mark on my hips and every trace of cellulite on my tummy, my eyes stopped on the perfect bikini. I flashed a smile at the mirror. I wasn’t going to let her make me feel inadequate. Not for a single minute.
Why on earth would I let a young woman steal away my self-love with a single sentence? Had she ever felt little babies kick inside her? Did her perfectly perky breasts get tugged at and bitten by hungry babes? Had she ever consumed a few too many calories because her kids left all their mac and cheese on the plate? Did she ever have to skip the gym after a sleepless night spent covered in vomit and doubling as a mattress for a feverish child?
No. This body has gone through it all and has evidence to prove it. Not a doctor, nor full-body coverage, nor society’s perception of what a woman wearing a bikini should look like will change it.
Not only did I not want a one piece, I wanted one of the tiny, bum bearing bikini bottoms that I had seen so many young Russian women wearing in the resort. So what if I’ll have to work extra hard on my tan?
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