“Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, So in the locker, she wanted to stay.” ~ Brian Hyland
I think I wore my first bikini probably when I was four years old. I imagine that I had a big belly at that time, which most four year olds do, and I looked absolutely dashing! Sadly, that was probably the last time I wore one too.
I remember one time when I was about seven years old, and my friend’s aunt who was a seamstress made her a cute white bikini with red and orange stripes. I was jealous of her. The bikini was beautiful, she looked really good in it and I wanted one just like it. Her aunt then made one for too, and I looked awful in it. I was so embarassed that I swore to stick to one pieces from then on. And I did.
I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone in this, but walking around in your intimates at the beach or pool (because really, what’s the difference between a bikini and undearwear besides material?) is nerve wrecking. It’s the worst thing in the world, right up there with public speaking for some. I hate it. Every time I walk out onto the beach in one (and pool too) I feel as if everyone stops what they’re doing and stares at me – and not for a good reason either.
So you can probably imagine the shock I experienced when I was stared up and down when going to the beaches in Amalfi and Pescara in Italy. The strange thing is – I wasn’t stared at because of how my body looks but because I was wearing a one piece bathing suit! No one wears a one piece bathing suit. And I mean no one. Everyone wears a bikini. Even the grannies who are ninety wear bikinis, revealing all their loose parts. The pregnant women, the obese women, the fruit shaped women (apple and pear) wear them as well. Everyone! And nobody cared about what other people thought. And they rocked, they wore them with confidence!
I also noticed that the figures we mostly see in magazines and tv were practically non-existant there. I managed to push aside the fact that I was wearing a one piece and for once in my life, I was able to enjoy walking around in my swimsuit. I didn’t feel the need to use a cover up. I went from the sea to the bar to the beach chair and even making a sand castle. I finally felt free to enjoy being in my own skin! I was totally comfortable – oh boy!
And then the unthinkable happened. I decided to buy two bikinis!! Not one, but two. And I said I bought them, I didn’t say I wore them. Actually, I didn’t wear them because I bought them on my last day at the beach, and also because I thought that I would look rather silly in it as I am tanned on my upper and lowere body and it would mean that my midrift would be snow white. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
So yesterday my daughter and I decided to go to the outdoor community pool. I reached for my one piece bathing suit and she immediately stopped me. She wanted me to wear my “cute” bikini with the polka dots on the inside. Boy was it ever hard to put that on. Not because it didn’t fit, but because the courage I had experienced in Italy drained out of me the minute I stepped onto that plane to come back home. I knew that at that point if I didn’t put it on, I never would. So I sucked it up and I put it on.
At the pool, when I walked out of the change room in my bikini I felt that everyone was staring at me. I talked myself out of running for the change room, and encouraged myself to believe that I don’t care what people think. I wasn’t there to impress anyone. I was there to enjoy myself. And I did enjoy myself. I didn’t know that being in a bikini is actually liberating. The water feels different against the skin, against your bare belly, than when you’re in a one piece.
Then nice things began happening. My daughter said to me that I look cute. A woman complimented me on my bikini and I noticed a few men staring at me. This helped me feel more comfortable in it because I don’t have a model’s figure. I know I’m soft in a few areas. I looked around and found that those “perfect” figures were non-existant here too. Was all the fear I felt about wearing a bikini driven by my mind and what I thought I needed to look like in order to wear one?
I’m so thankful for those ladies on the beach in Italy. Some may think it’s gross to see some of them in bikinis. I think it’s beautiful. They prove that no matter what, you have a right to be free. Society shouldn’t stop you from enjoying life. No one should dictate what you should or should not wear. If it wasn’t for them, it wouldn’t have even crossed my mind to wear a two piece. So girls, pull out you bikini and be free!! Love what your Mama gave you!