It was a Tuesday afternoon and I was trying to will myself to hold a plank for 10 more seconds. My arms shook and drops of sweat made jagged circles on my yoga mat.*
From the screen in front of me a chiseled blond spoke chipper words of encouragement while I grumbled expletives under my breath.
And then she said it.
“You’ll have that bikini body before you know it.”
I dropped to my knees into child pose…the best pose for the temper tantrum I was about to throw.
No. No no no no no no. NO!
What is with this obsession with the bikini body? With this perverse view of perfection that is all about tan and taunt skin, with no space for stretch marks or scars. Bikini body is not about health—it is about jutting hip bones and waxing and perky breasts.
Well guess what? I will never have a bikini body.
I don’t tan, I burn.
Years of being overweight have left me with sags and stripes.
I have lost 80 pounds, and I am proud of that. Or, I should be proud of it. But a bikini will not make me feel strong and proud. It will make me feel exposed and embarrassed.
Hear me out. There is nothing wrong with wearing a bikini.
But here is my foundational issue with the term “bikini body.”
It is the implication that I should look good for the enjoyment of others. After a cursory glance at the mirror in the bathroom to make sure the girls are covered and the sunhat is firmly in place, I won’t see myself or my bathing suit-clad body again until I am back in the bathroom showering off the salt and sand.
A bikini body is solely for the benefit of those looking at me.
So did I just get healthy and lean and strong for the enjoyment of others?
I did it so I can play with my friends’ kids, and maybe one day kids of my own, without getting out of breath.
I did it so I can go on hikes where I gasp, not because I’m overweight but because the view spread out before me is breathtaking.
I did it because I believe I am worth filling my body with good things, not garbage.
I did it so I can look in the mirror and feel good about the person looking back. Not because she looks good in a two-piece. But because she is healthy and happy.
So no, I don’t want a bikini body. I want a body that I’m comfortable in. Even if that means I wear a one-piece. With a little skirt. That shows off my pasty legs.
I just want the best version of Brandy’s body. Stretch marks and scars and all.
*Side note…community yoga mats are gross. I use them, because I don’t like schlepping my mat back and forth between home and the workout room at work. But seriously. Gross. When I look at the wipe after cleaning the mat, I literally gag. Anyway, back to the story.