Simcha Fisher pointed at a HuffPost piece entitled "Moms, Put On That Swimsuit:"
You've got two choices every summer -- to put on a swimsuit or to skip it.
I have a lot of friends who do the latter.
They go to the pool with their kids, but they only put their feet in the pool. They sit on the sidelines, too concerned about what they look like and what others will think to embrace the joy of swimming with their kids.
Or they go to the beach, but stay under the umbrella instead of running into the ocean.
And it makes me incredibly sad.
Because when women stay on the sidelines because of insecurity, we are modeling unhealthy behavior to our children and we are missing out.
Your swimsuit does not define you.
More than once last year, I just felt too damn fat to put on a bathing suit. Just couldn’t do it. So I would go to the beach with the kids, and they would ask me to take them in the water and do that swishing thing, or catch them when they jump off the big rock — and I couldn’t, because I didn’t have a suit on.
They were crushed. It didn’t make any sense to them. Why would you not wear your swimsuit to the beach? And they were right. Yeah, there are skinny, perky teenagers at the beach. Yeah, there are other moms who are frolicking around with their kids, and they’re wearing the same size bikinis as their toddlers. Not even with stretch marks! How do they even do that? And here I am, and I weigh more than I did when I was nine months pregnant with the youngest kid, who is now 2 1/2. How did I even do that?
More to the point, who cares? Feel fat? Stay in the damn water. No one will see you, and you can feel light and graceful for once. Sitting on the sand getting gritty and trying to tug your shorts and tank top over your flabby bits while the kids beg you to jump in? That is a great way to have a lousy afternoon. If you want to be attractive, have fun. Laugh and be happy. That’s beautiful, even when you’re fat.
Here's my theory on the swimsuit problem:
A lot of us just aren't used to seeing ourselves in swimsuits. It's not like it isn't common to be seen in public dressed unflatteringly (baggy tops and ill-fitting jeans, I'm talking about you). Unless you're wearing the wrong size, swimsuits aren't actually much worse.
When I was about 30 (and, incidentally, about 50 pounds overweight, which is a lot when you're under five feet tall), I started taking adult swim lessons at the YMCA.
I had taken lessons as a kid, enough not to drown if I fell in the pool, but I'd never swum "a lap" in my life.
The first swimsuit-related lesson that I learned was that my suit, which had been carefully chosen to make me look as not-fat as possible, was not made for swimming. The straps wanted to fall off my shoulders. That week between my first-ever lesson and my second-ever lesson, I went to a sporting goods store and bought a basic Speedo-brand lap suit. Something like this:
No shirring. No skirts. No color illusions. No underwires. No sweetheart necklines. No nothing. Just a suit that would stay on when I moved in the water. Because that's what they sold at the sporting goods store.
The big surprise, though, was it turned into the suit that I felt best in. Because it was the suit that I put on, week after week after week, as I learned how to swim the way that swimming people swim. I got used to how I looked in it, because I put it on every week in front of the mirror in the locker room.
And I was surrounded by other people wearing the same kind of suit. Some of them were fit and strong. Some of them were enormously fat and disabled. A lot of them were mothers of children in swimming lessons, like me. And all of them got into the water, in their boring lap suits, and moved their bodies faster and more sleekly than they could move them out of the water. Some of them smiled and leaped into the pool, and some of them worked doggedly at paddling from end to the other with looks of great concentration on their faces.
And eventually it sank into my brain that how you look in your suit is so far from being important, compared to what you can do in your suit -- namely, get wet and possibly sandy, splash and play or work in the water, raise your heart rate and build upper body strength, exert yourself or relax and cool off.
Just getting into any suit, regularly, can do wonders for how you feel in a suit. I think it's a vicious cycle: if you don't put it on often, you don't get used to how you look in one, and you associate it with feeling out-of-place, which feels visible. When you are focused on how you look, you tend to imagine other people are too (when really, they don't care all that much). Wearing a swimsuit frequently, especially if you use it to help you do something you want to do (like swim laps, or play with your kids at the beach) tends to make you realize that it's a totally normal thing to do, no matter what your shape: put on a swimsuit and get in the water.
So my advice to women who are looking for the perfect suit to minimize their thighs or whatever: The most flattering suit is the suit you put on to do things in. Find one that fits comfortably and doesn't want to fall off, and put it on every week. If you don't live near the beach or belong to a YMCA like I do, go out in the sprinkler with your kids or something. Make at least one outing somewhere where you will see lots of people of all shapes enjoying the water. Do it often enough that you realize that the swimsuit is not something scary. It's just a tool, a uniform. And nobody's really looking at you anyway, except the people who love you and the little people who look up to you and are counting on you to show them how to be.