Raise your hand if you don’t love the way you look. (My hand is raised.)
Since having our daughters I’ve become talented in the art of covering up. My body has changed in ways I never thought possible, and hiding the unsightly parts has become a game.
There are the looser fitting tops to avoid seeing the muffin top.
Ways to stand and position myself in photos and on camera to hide the wider hips. Don’t forget that hand on the hip to make your arms look thin!
And of course one piece or tankini bathing suits with boy shorts to cover the cellulite, thighs, and booty. Because for me the babies grew in my butt.
But when we were away last weekend, I found myself at my brother’s house with no bathing suit, so I had to borrow one from my slim sister in law. It was cute, a little skirt bottom from Old Navy, and a regular old tube top. When I put it on in the bathroom though I panicked. I mean, no one has seen my bare tummy in a bikini in eight long years. Including me.
When I looked in the middle I noticed the soft tummy, cellulite on my sides, and my legs looked scary. What would my family think? I was mortified. I work on TV, it’s a glamorous world. And luckily Spanx exist to help me look my best at work. But just because I fake it on television doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with my self-image.
Luckily for me, our daughter sees in me what I don’t.
As I walked out slowly onto the porch, just our five-year-old was there. Her reaction was priceless. “Mommy, you look so pretty! When did you get a new bathing suit? Will you come swimming with me?”
She didn’t see the flaws I was obsessing about for years. She didn’t see the woman I used to be, a size four before kids. She just saw me for who I am, and for the first time in a long time, I felt comfortable in my skin. So I snapped these pics to remind myself how beautiful imperfection can be.
I swam with my daughter on that Saturday afternoon, and felt freer than I knew was ever possible. I felt the cool water on my skin and forgot all about those 15 pounds that have been weighing down my mind for years.
I realized that day that I have to stop comparing myself to all the other television reporters I work with, who are much smaller than me. Comparison is the thief of joy, and the pressure to look good for an audience is impossibly exhausting. Something that society and the media stresses with their “celebrity bounce back” stories after giving birth and all the photoshopped pictures we see on social media. But it’s crap.
Real women have real bodies. You. Me. Her. We all do.
We all have our own truth of what we are, and what we want to be. And for me, a size eight feels massive. Or it did.
And yes I’m too hard on myself, but aren’t we all sometimes?
So this week I’m going shopping to buy my own bikini. It might have boy shorts or a skirt (let’s not get crazy), but I’m going to be who I want to be. I’m going to try to silence that voice in my head and live without judging myself, and without covering up this body that made these adorable little girls. It’s not easy, but we all deserve a little kindness and grace from ourselves don’t we?
If you too are heading to the beach, pool, or lake, and find yourself thinking negative thoughts about your body, remember, you are exactly as you’re meant to be. We are all warriors who birthed babies and are beautiful and strong. We need to try to see ourselves through our kid’s eyes, and if comfortable, forget about covering up.
They see the real you.
Let’s let everyone else see her too.
If you liked this post, please read How Throwing Away My Jeans Helped Me See My Real Beauty.
Cee Lee Reed says
You look absolutely stunning. And since we’ve met in person…I know that photos can’t capture your true loveliness with any justice. Thanks for writing this. We all need to hear it.
Kristen Hewitt says
You are too kind, we need to get together soon!
Brittany Burbank says
I say “comparison is the thief of joy” at least ONCE a week while teaching yoga. This was so spot on me this week. I’m a size 10ish depending on the month and I am a Bikram yoga instructor. Lately, I started to wonder if people would not want to take my yoga class cause they would assume I should look like some yoga Instagram model lady.
I had to remind myself that I am a DAMN good yoga teacher. I treat my body better than most. I do yoga. I eat vegetables. But I also try and make peace with the fact that I had two 10+ lb baby boys 12 months apart. Bodies be changing!! Gotta embrace myself, and remember all the stuff I have going for me!
Thanks for this. Keep up the good work.
Kristen Hewitt says
Yes yes and YES! I would LOVE to take your class!
ero Lucy says
Thanks for this post! This happened to me two weeks ago and told my friend I didn’t wear a bikini in 8 years! I felt great and confident on that day,, but then at the next beach day I went back to my reassuring tankini. Aaah I need to work on this. Thank you!!