You have one life. Love your body now, as is.
For the first few mornings of our vacation, I didn't go swimming with everyone else. I joined them at the pool after working out at the gym, and I sat by the water in my sweaty workout clothes, dipping my feet in, passing the time until I could put my 2-year-old down for a nap and slip into the shower.
But that morning, my son begged me to get in my bathing suit and swim with him.
I usually think of myself as very body-positive. I'm an advocate for loving whatever size you are. I want all the body-shaming that goes on in this world to freaking end already.
I've made enormous strides in my relationship with my body — from hiding in baggy t-shirts as an adolescent to skipping meals to become skinny in my 20s to freaking out about the enormous changes that pregnancy and birth brought in my thirties and to finally feeling at peace with my shape now, as I edge toward 40.
But humans aren't perfect, and for women especially, our body shame runs deep. So even though I'm the most comfortable I've ever been in my body, when my son asked me to come to the pool in my bathing suit, I hesitated.
I hadn't worn a bathing suit in ages. And this winter, I gained a few pounds that I was still working on losing. I was doing so in a healthful way, and wasn't obsessing about it as I might've in the past. But I realized that I still looked at my body as flawed, not quite worthy of parading about half-naked in public.
There's nothing wrong with wanting my body to be healthier. Those extra pounds I'd gained (and the extra chocolate eating that went with them) had pushed me into a less healthy place.
But even aside from those pounds, I've always had a notion that when both of my kids are in school full-time and generally more independent, I'd have more hours to tend to my own needs, and might be able to lose a little weight or tighten a few muscles.
In other words, no matter how much I try to resist it, there's always an ideal shape I imagine for myself, somewhere out in the future.
But why should I wait to declare my body perfectly beautiful? Why should I apologize to myself or the world for my body's imperfections?
I snapped a photo of myself in my bathing suit as I was heading out to meet my family at the hotel pool. And when I snapped this picture, I decided then and there that I'd share it with others.
I'm not sharing it to say, "This is me, with all my imperfections." I'm not saying, "Hey, look at this mom-body." I'm not sharing to show you a "before" picture. I'm not trying to show you a woman who's beautiful despite her bumpy thighs and wide hips.
I'm sharing because when I looked at myself in the mirror, I realized that in that moment, right then, I was beautiful. I realized there's nothing I needed to wait for to declare myself beautiful.
There's no moment when someone's going to hand me the beauty pageant trophy. No one is going to decide it for me; I'm the one who gets to decide when my body is just right.
And, godd*mn it, it's today.
Why wait? As I get older, I realize that life is too short for that kind of thinking. When my body doesn't feel "right" or "perfect," I sit by the pool dipping in my toes instead of diving in the deep end and locking arms with my 8-year-old son, who's just learning to swim.
I sit on the concrete instead of tossing my 2-year-old around the kiddie pool, his eyes sparkling, mouth wide open with hysterical giggles. I don't get to feel the sun on my legs, the wind tickling the small of my back.
I'll be 40 in two years. There's no point in waiting to call this body beautiful. My body is beautiful, right now.
The same is true for you. There's only one body you get in this lifetime. Love it now. Don't wait. Love the hell out of it. Your body is beautiful.