“Annette Kellerman in the form-fitting one-piece tank suit that got her arrested in 1907.”
In case you haven’t already been reminded, bikini season is almost upon us.
And chances are you have seen a multitude of messages letting you know the various methods to obtain your perfect bikini body through detoxes, yoga, and bootcamps.
Before signing up for that Bikini Body Bootcamp, take a beat and listen. Listen to yourself and what your intentions are for obtaining the so-called “bikini body.”
I have to first clarify that there is nothing wrong with exercise. I don’t know how I would get through my own existence without it. But if the primary intention behind exercise is to alter the shape of your body so that you can finally rock that bikini and to seek approval…then I’d like to have a talk.
The very nature of the “Bikini Body” phenomenon is that our bodies are simply not suitable for a bikini just as they are. The phenomenon preaches that we have to go through great lengths to prepare them for the season whether through cleanses or bootcamps, or sadly sometimes both. Why is it that we can’t just make a nice smooth transition from winter to summer months without feeling pressure to change our bodies?
Why is it that it can’t be as simple as shedding the layers and donning a bikini? Boom! There’s your bikini body.
Instead we are bombarded with messages that we must do something to change the way we look before that can possibly happen. There is a belief that exists here that if I’m going to reveal my body to the world, it better be perfect and that anything less is unacceptable.
This is heartbreaking.
Even if we want a bikini body just for ourselves, we hold ourselves to a standard of non-existent perfection. I don’t always love my body, and I’ll be frank with you that when I try on my bikini once the weather starts to warm up, I tend to look at myself disparagingly.
What I often notice first is the area right around my hips, where the bikini cuts in and when it’s a really unkind bottom my belly just won’t stay put. Like it has a mind of its own. I will notice that I have cellulite on my thighs and stretch marks circumventing my entire middle. I start to do this like I’m weeding out a garden that has been covered in snow for months. I lay it all out there as I tear into myself.
Never mind finding the beautiful parts of myself—the parts I like—I’m too busy ripping myself a new one.
But then I start to walk around in the bikini, I start to own it, and say “so what?” The only reason I believe (or one of the reasons) that my body has to look a certain way to rock a bikini is because society tells me so. But who is society to set the rules for how I must look? Why is it that I can’t create my own rules? The rules are: the way that I currently look is the way I am meant to be…it’s as simple as that.
Before you sign up, I challenge you: put the bikini on. In the privacy of your own home. Walk around, feel the freedom you give your skin to breathe, room too stretch and say hello after being concealed by multiple layers for months. Work on this: freedom from judgement and self-hatred. Where sure you can acknowledge the things you don’t like about your body, but you start to make your peace with them. And slowly they become the best parts about you.
I promise. (And we can talk more on how to do this in a later blog.)
What if, instead of investing the time and money into getting that bikini bod, you invested it into a path of self-acceptance? Where each day you confront the relationship you have with your body. You begin a slow process of acquainting yourself with the softest, squishiest part of your outer thighs and think “Hell yeah, I am gorgeous!”
It takes time and in doing so you will most likely encounter some very raw, very uncomfortable emotions as you dig into deeply rooted pain. But allow that to flood through you—as you give your soul a total cleanse.
The motivation to exercise needs to come from somewhere else, it needs to come from a place of self-love. Because, let’s just say, you work your butt off and get the bikini body of your dreams. What happens then? Are you finished with the work? Are you happy and fulfilled? Well sometimes yes we feel fulfilled, but temporarily. We seldom dig deeper to come from a place of love and acceptance. We just can’t keep letting unrealistic societal demands or a desire to please others in our lives be our motivation to exercise.
If you want to go for that bikini bod then I say go for it. Just listen to yourself a little closer this time and answer the question: What is my intention? What is my heart saying? Make sure that in addition to doing the work for your body, you are also doing the work for your soul. That it does not become a punishment but instead a celebration for the amazing person that you are.
Author: Maggie Converse
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: courtesy of author