Just put on your bathing suit, okay?
I mean it.
Do it for me.
Do it without apologies and disclaimers about any part of your body—not your saggy boobs, your wrinkly skin, your size, your lack of size, your frizzy hair, how pale you are, how freckly you are—I don’t want to hear any of it.
Frankly, I’m sick of hearing it from you and everyone else. All we do is say we’re sorry for how we look, as if only Sports Illustrated models are allowed to go to the pool and only personal trainers and yoga teachers are permitted at the beach.
Like all of us with imperfect bodies haven’t earned a good time too, so we have to stay home and be miserable until it gets cold again and we can hide under cable knits and trench coats.
I need you to put your bathing suit on because it’s time to have fun. Summer isn’t about a few square inches of Lycra and some string. It’s not about one pieces or two and it’s not about underwires or minimizers or little flouncy skirts that obscure your “problem” areas. Stop hiding out in self-imposed shame.
This summer means freeing yourself from the BS of self-consciousness so that you can enjoy your life on your terms—not the diet and fashion industries’ terms, which profit from exploiting your insecurities. Let’s subvert that nonsense right now by living our biggest, most thrilling, rich, full life regardless of how we look.
Summer is about watermelon and iced tea. It’s about lazing around on the deck listening to the birds and the cicadas and the wind in the big leaves of poplars. This is our time to finally take a little rest from the buzz and clamor of endless to-do lists. The middle of the year is one big gasp—from September to May you’re holding your breath, but summer is finally being able to exhale and let it all go.
Breeze around in a maxi dress and throw your hair in the messiest of messy buns and put on some big black sunglasses. Wear an old t-shirt and some baggy shorts and broken-in flip-flops. Who cares? Lemonade, barbecues, star-gazing—that’s what summer is about. Buy a cooler and pack it full of treats. Take a spontaneous road trip. You won’t regret it. End up at a National Park and take a million pictures and then go visit your best friend from college who comments on all your Facebook posts, but who you haven’t seen in forever.
Summer is about sleeping in and staying up late and it’s about it being way too hot to turn on the stove, so let’s make sandwiches on paper plates and then head out to get some ice cream that we’ll enjoy sitting on the hood of the car watching the swallows dart in the sunset. Let’s watch the fireflies flicker and laugh at the way the hop toads jump across the patio. Tomorrow we can walk on the boardwalk and ride the Ferris Wheel. None of this has anything to do with your cellulite.
Making memories is the main priority for the next three months. Create the kind of summer that 20 years from now you’ll be telling stories about. That time is today, this week, this month, next month. But it’s not about being perfect. Forget redecorating your entire house for July 4th. That’s just insane. It’ll be Christmas before you know it and you can save your decorating energy for December, okay? Instead of trying to execute the perfect Cape Cod style clambake, think: “Remember that time when you were trying to crack open that lobster and you accidentally flung a claw across the porch and whacked Aunt Linda in the face and we laughed so hard all night that we almost peed our pants?”
Come over. Bring some kids so we can sit by the pool and let them splash us while we slurp popsicles. Let’s take ridiculous selfies and forget what time it is and get confused because the sun stays up so long now. How about summer reading? When was the last time you sprawled out on the sand under a rainbow striped umbrella and lost yourself in a thrilling, made-up murder plot? Remember the smell of coconut and the crashing whoosh of waves while the lifeguards blow their whistles? Don’t let yourself miss out on all this joy. Summer is a time to be welcomed with open (and even flabby) arms, not something to dread because you broke your New Year’s resolution about not eating Chunky Monkey before bed every night.
The thing you must remember is that no one likes people because they are gorgeous and fit. We don’t choose our friends based on the size of their jeans or the shade of their tans, yet we insist upon acting as if they do. I promise, this never happens. Friendship is not a casting call at a modeling agency. We choose our friends because of how they make us feel, the fun we have with them, the good times we share because we just “get” each other and our crazy senses of humor. No one has ever once said, “Wow, I had the best time hanging out with my best friend at the park, but it would’ve been way better if only she had golden skin, sleek hair and were 20 pounds lighter.”
It’s warm and the sun is sparkling on the surface of the pool. The beach, the porch swing, the peach orchard, Shakespeare in the park, the art festival downtown, the campground, and the kayak are beckoning. And so am I. Come with me, my beautiful friend. You are perfect exactly as you are, no matter what you are wearing. Let me show you what summer is really about. Let’s see how much fun we can have.
Author: Victoria Fedden
Image: Flickr/Wes Peck
Editor: Travis May/Nicole Cameron