“She was afraid to come out of the locker. She was as nervous as she could be. She was afraid to come out of the locker. She was afraid that somebody would see.” -Brian Hyland
I bought a bikini. Friday afternoon. I walked into Target to buy cat litter and walked out with an honest-to-God, skin-bearing, body-revealing bikini. Well, that and a cart full of half necessary, half non-necessary items (including the cat litter) because, you know – Target. Leaving that place with a cart full of shit isn’t optional. It’s a requirement. Anyway, back to the bikini. I can’t even tell you why it happened. The last time I purchased a swim suit it had full coverage and boy shorts for the bottom. I bought it for a trip to Florida a couple years ago and fifty percent of the time I had it on I had a v neck tee over it. I don’t show a lot of skin. I only just recently – over the past maybe five years – started wearing shorts on a regular basis when it’s hot out and even less recently started wearing tank tops on purpose out in public on sunny days. It’s not that I’m trying to be modest, I’m just trying to hide my “softer” features. For some reason though, as I stood there contemplating all the mismatched tops and bottoms, a wave of confidence and empowerment washed over me and I grabbed five tops and three bottoms, holed up in a dressing room and prepared for the worst. But, here’s the thing…
I wasn’t grossed out. There I was staring at myself in a mirror under harsh, fluorescent, department store light wearing glorified underwear and instead of slapping my face and screaming in horror Kevin McAllister style, I tilted my head to the side and thought, “Huh.” Now, I’m not toned by any stretch of the imagination. I’m what I like to refer to as a “Fit Fat” person. I work out, but I also enjoy alcohol and cheese and carbs and ice cream and all things fried way too much to maintain a body of chiseled perfection. For instance, I actually have working abdominal muscles that – when flexed – can be felt. They’re there. They’re just covered by a nice layer of “adipose” – to quote my high school biology teacher. A bubble wrap layer if you will, to protect them from harm. I am forever bound to wear low-rise pants to accommodate, which – sidebar – can I rant for a quick sec?
What is with stores not carrying low-rise pants anymore??? It’s like all of the pants-makers in the world got together and were like, “You know what? Low-rise pants: They’re comfortable. They fit great. They accommodate bulging midsections that seem to be trending right now. Let’s quit making them.” Seriously. It’s the only explanation. One year (I’m pretty sure it was 2013) my New Year’s resolution was to wear skinny jeans. I stocked up on Old Navy Rockstars because they were a low-rise DREAM and fit me like a boss, which – sidebar within a sidebar – is a double dream because most Old Navy jeans fit horribly. Well, just this past year my two most favorite pairs sprung a leak - #thighproblems – and I went to buy some new ones. Guess what? Now they’re all mid-rise and high-rise. You know what those do? They give your spare tire a nice lateral squeeze, leaving you with this lovely little “gut shelf” that not even the flowy-est of tops can hide. I seriously looked through easily fifteen stacks of Rockstar jeans at the Old Navy by my work and found one – ONE – pair of low-rise. It’s like they’re slowly going extinct and no one told me before it was too late. I understand that fashion is this kind of revolving door of trends that circle in and out and back in again only to be pushed out after a while, so I get why all this high-waitsted-“body-shaping”-Taylor-Swift bullshit is back in style, but come ON. Throw a beer-lovin’ gal a bone, would ya? Alas. I begrudgingly digress.
So, this bikini – I end up buying it, right? After much consideration, mind you. I checked just about every angle in that full-length mirror – standing up, sitting down, bending over, squatting, jogging (You wonder why chicks always take so long in there?). I gave my reflection a smile, then a neutral glance, then a raised eyebrow look. Put my hands on my hips, hung my arms at my side, turned and did a nice over-the-shoulder. ‘This could work,’ I thought to myself. ‘This could be a thing, Bec. We can work with this.’ However – like most decisions I make with no one but myself present – the moment I got to the car I thought, ‘What the hell did I actually just do?’ Why do we do that? Did you ever wonder? Why do we confidently make a decision and then regret it almost immediately? It drives me nuts. I do it all the time.
So, anyway. I’m driving home replaying all of these over exaggerated scenarios in my mind like, I’m at the pool and the minute I take my tank top off all of the music and splashing and chatter stops and everyone does this horrified, collective gasp and I’m chased out by a bunch of offended 20-somethings wielding pool noodles or I casually walk past a row of deck chairs and all the people reading their books drop them and dramatically shield their sunglasses-covered eyes screaming “Cover up, you albino loser!” and push me into the pool. (Welcome to my world, people.) I tell myself that – worst case scenario – I’ll keep it as my back up suit should the need arise. Do you guys ever do that? You buy something knowing full well that you’ll never wear it? Maybe it’s just me. I remember one time in college I swung by a Victoria’s Secret to stock up on cute underwear and there was this green striped pair that I wanted really bad and the biggest size they had was two sizes too small, so naturally I bought them telling myself that I was going to try really hard to lose twenty pounds and then reward myself with finally being able to slip into green striped, cotton victory. Guess what? I still own them. $7.50 price tag and all.
I got a second (probably somewhat biased) opinion from my husband once he got home from work who confessed that he’d never seen me in a bikini before to which I replied, “That’s because I’ve never owned one before.” He gave me the thumbs up and I ended up taking it out for it’s maiden voyage Sunday afternoon at the pool at a friend’s apartment complex. We walked through the gate, I sat my bag and towels down on one of the deck chairs, lost my shorts, pulled off my tank and guess what? No one gave a shit. My husband sprayed my inordinately white torso with SPF 30 and I jumped in. It was a good afternoon.
I’ve never been super confident with my body. I don’t know many that are. We all have features we dislike, and I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older and I just don’t care as much or what, but I will say this – pulling something off that you convinced yourself you couldn’t is a pretty great feeling. Let’s be real. Most of the time – though we may think it – we aren’t the stars of the show. And, thank God for that. We can get away with more. So, to all my self-conscious readers – embrace your ensemble status. Wear that blue eye shadow or those patterned leggings or those chunky frames. Be confident. Buy the bikini and you my friend, you just do you.