I had imagined—like many women likely did—that I’d emerge out of this pandemic with a fuller but tighter self. The slow days turned to weeks, and then months, didn’t slow my taste for working out. I spent at least 20 minutes a day for most days of the week moving my body outside of its usual movement. At times, it was a dance class between writing sessions and emails. Other times, it was an hour of pilates while Oak remained on his morning Zoom meeting in the next room. While holding my butt-cheeks in and tightening up my abdomen, I pretended as if my room was my favorite dance studio. In my head, my apartment hadn’t turned into a classroom, a childcare center, my office, a cafeteria, a doctor’s office and my therapist’s office to name a few. In my room, on my mat, everything seemed relatively smooth.
Although the health app on my phone liked to remind me that my steps were 50% lower than the previous year, I didn’t worry. I felt more fit than ever. Truthfully, my exercise routine sustained me.
I can’t think of the early days of this pandemic without cringing. The ways we floated between remote school and in-person on a dime, depending on one case or 100 cases. I can’t think of it, and I don’t want to. But I also need to think of it to remind myself to be gentle with my body.
On social media, like many things, how we emerge out of this pandemic seems to be neatly wrapped up in a bow. But in the comfort of our homes and bodies, neither exists. If we were lucky enough, we turned a year older in this awful season, our bodies changed, time, stress, and at times, joy, took its course.
More than ever, I find myself saying an old sentiment, “Oh, this is just my body!” It has become not a way to pass the baton to rid myself of my work-out routines (routines I find mentally helpful as much as physically), but to affix the parts of me that may be at risk of falling by the wayside as punitive damages.
The other day, I was speaking with a friend about working out and about my body, and River came up, hugged me and whispered, “I love your body.” Oak chimmed in and said his favorite word, “Thick!” and we all laughed. While my conversation wasn’t negative, it made me think of all the women who may be in this strange space in considering the fleshiness of themselves. And as a follower pointed out as well, the stressed skinny version of themselves now too. I am not sure there are answers to any of this. In part, my own growth is easing into genetics and becoming the woman of my story, walking into her mid 30s.
I bought two new bathing suits recently. A one piece and a two piece. The one piece was to mostly wear as a top—an opportunity to show off my back if you will. And as I worked from home the other day in my two-piece, I realized that suit, was an opportunity to just love on me a bit more.
So much of what we believe about our bodies is what other people tell us to believe. And oftentimes, what bad clothing tells us about our bodies, “We’re not made for you. So you must change!”
I want to be mindful to not diminish all the work I, or you did the last year plus. The bare minimum was enough.
Nor do I care to make this about uplifting myself. Rather, I just want to take some time to acknowledge the preverbal elephant in the room that many of us may be sharing space with right now. I don’t have all the answers. But I do know, this summer, I’m going to wear whatever I want. Maybe you needed to hear that, too.
Here are a few bikinis that I love:
Are you planning on wearing any bikinis this summer? If so, I’d love to know your favorites!
Photographs by Kelsey Cherry for LY. This post includes affiliate links. If you choose to purchase something, we may earn a small commission.