I was rolling through my Twitter feed the other day when my friend and musician Meaghan Smith tweeted:
"Want a bikini body? Put on a bikini."
It was immediately retweeted by me, not because I wear a bikini, but because I subscribe to the idea that every body is a swimsuit body. Every body is worth celebrating in the shape it is in.
Recently my family took a trip to the beach in Southern California. One day while we were lounging in the sunshine by the children's pool, I looked up to see a woman in a swimsuit. Her body was full of angles and rolls. When she walked her skin rippled like a crowd of excited spectators — as though her body actually cheered when she walked. It was beautiful to see her move and play without any registration of shame.
So I decided to try it myself. I slunk out of the lounge chair and the white resort towels I had hidden myself under for the better part of the afternoon. I stood up and resolved to walk to the gate of the pool — 50 yards about, past a deck of men, women and children — and back to my seat. I was going to do it unapologetically in the crowded spaces between me and my desired goal.
Walking to the gate was liberating. Instead of focusing on what my body looked like as I walked in my black one-piece with the cut-out back, I thought about who I am. I thought about my three beautiful children in the children's pool splashing like hooked fish in a fisherman's bucket. I thought about the relationship I have with my husband, how we're putting in time and dedication into loving and understanding each other. I thought about the essays I've written, the words I've expressed, the joy I feel in learning something new, the faith I have cultivated, the hope I live. In this path of positivity, I walked to that gate and turned around.
I felt mentally attractive, spiritually attractive. Was I physically attractive? It didn't matter to me.
When I turned around I was feeling radiant. In that conquering space of insecurity where I rarely float around, I felt like I was goddess of ancient antiquity. A path of golden rays followed behind me as I attempted to return to my throne on the other end of the pool.
I was floating so sweetly, in fact, I failed to take note of the plastic beach ball rolling below my feet — not until I was searching for balance like a tight-rope walker on the top of the circus tent. In the totter of that little second, I prayed I wouldn't fall sideways into the pool — a dampening end to my promising victory lap. Instead, I fell hard on the rust-colored concrete, my exposed knees scraping as I landed.
I'll tell you what, I didn't even notice the blood dropping from my knees. My pride hurt enough for my whole being. I got up and shot glances from behind my large sunglasses around at the pool, making sure no one saw my act of ungodly coordination. Shame enveloped me like a wet towel around my shoulders. And then I collected what esteem I had left and limped (a bit) back to my lounge chair.
But you know what? I didn't hide under those crispy pool towels when I returned to ground zero. Because even though I didn't subscribe to that magazine's 14-day Summer Body Fitness Challenge, or that TV show's Extreme Body Makeover Green Juice Cleanse, it turns out I already have myself a beach body.
And here it is.
C. Jane Kendrick is creator of the award-winning blog cjanekendrick.com. She lives in Provo with her husband and three children. She likes waffles, burritos and vacuuming. Always vacuuming. Contact: Facebook, C. Jane Kendrick; Twitter, C.JaneKendrick