A Letter To Myself At The Beach Today
Dear Fat Mommy in the Swimsuit,
You know you’re overweight, right? You don’t have toned abs, or even the slightly flabby abs of a skinny girl who had a couple kids. You haven’t had a toned tummy since high school. When you got rid of your eating disorder, you got rid of those abs, too. Your weight has gone up and down more than your bank account. Except that the bank account stayed low and your weight, well, didn’t.
And did you know your arms are flabby, too? Good ol’ bingo wings there. You probably shouldn’t wear tank tops, muchless a swimsuit. People don’t want to see those arms flapping around as you wave to your baby on the beach. Gross.
Don’t even get me started on those thighs. Cellulite, dimples of fat ripple from hip to knee. It’s even worse when you sit on the sand. Those tree trunks squish out, oozing like the wet sand you’re sitting on.
Why don’t you go hide in the water? Put all of that below the surface. Let the waves hide all of your rolls and flab. Just go out as far as you can. Don’t let anyone see you or — God forbid — take your picture.
So what if that means no walking with your baby boy along the shore? So what if that means no comforting him when a noisy wave scares him. So what if that means no building sandcastles with your daughter as she warms up? So what if that means no standing up to help her swim? You can kneel on the sand and hope a wave doesn’t knock you both over. You need to hide. Hide from people. Hide from their cameras.
What? Your mother-in-law took a picture of you? Were you hiding under the water? Ok, fine. Go ahead and post that one. Shoulders-up isn’t too bad. And your adorable kid is blocking most of your body. She took another picture of you … sitting on the sand? Are you hiding behind a kid or beach ball or enormous tent? No? It’s just your baby snuggling with you for comfort after a noisy wave scared him? He’s one. He doesn’t hide anything. You’d better hope that phone goes in the lake and no one sees that picture ever.
She included that one in the pictures she sent to you? Post the cute ones of the kids. The one with your daughter making a sandcastle. The one just before your son ate a handful of sand. The one with your husband holding the baby by the water. If you must, post the picture of you hiding in the water. But do not share the picture of you sitting on the beach for everyone to see.
You posted that picture? Why? WHY? Sure, it’s a sweet moment. It’s nice to see a mom comforting their babies. But why would you share that? Do you think it’s more important to show that tender maternal moment than to hide your love for your baby? Are you trying take ownership of your body? Show people that even though you may not love how you look now, that you’re not going to let it hold you back? Are you trying to set an example for your kids, that no matter how you look, you can be happy and have fun? Do you think your kids should learn to feel ashamed of what makes them look different, or do you think they should embrace it — or at least not hide it?
Ok, those are valid reasons for posting that picture. Kids should learn to accept themselves and love themselves and all of that. But if you post that picture, be prepared. The hate is coming. People will make fun of you. They’ll call you names. They’ll say you look like a beached whale or something they think is funny. They’ll tell you to cover up that fat ass and call you hideous.
Even if people hold their tongues, don’t expect any love. Don’t expect people to gush over your tender, maternal moment. Don’t expect people to tell you that you’re a great mom. And especially don’t any “You go, girl! You work that suit!” comments. No one will say, “I’m not comfortable with my body, either. Thanks for being brave!”
There’s no convincing you. You’re going to share that picture. And you’re going to put that suit on and take your daughter back to the beach next weekend. You’re not going to let haters — including yourself — keep you down. You want to be healthier, but while you work on that, you’re not going to stop living life. You’re not going to deprive your kids of these fun experiences because you don’t want to be seen in a swimsuit. You’re going to live your life in whatever body you happen to have at the moment.
So get out there. Enjoy the water, the sand, the sun. Enjoy your daughter’s squeals as she runs headlong into the cold water. Let her try to tackle you into waves. Sit on the sand and make a killer sandcastle. Bend over and walk with your baby. Watch the smile on his face as he squishes his toes in the soft beach sand. Help your daughter find zebra mussel shells and polished rocks. All of that — all of that — is more important than what other people might think of you in a swimsuit.