I'm a 38-year-old mother of two and, contrary to popular belief, I can still wear a bikini.
The last time I posted a picture of myself in a bikini online was to MySpace, which is enough to let you know that I am "An Old." In that picture, I was single and in my 20s, having fun with friends at a rooftop party in Brooklyn.
I'm no longer single (or even close to being in my 20s) and my idea of fun is of the family variety. And Brooklyn? Nope. I left it for the 'burbs about a year ago. I'm now a married, 38-year-old mom of two.
According to countless websites and listsicles I shouldn't wear a bikini. And, if I (gasp) dare to wear one, I absolutely shouldn't post it online.
After all, common knowledge dictates that I'm going to embarrass myself by how bad/old/uncool/fat/frumpy/mom-like I look. Or, alternately, I'm just posting it to "show off," hoping to bask in the accolades from old high school acquaintances and friends of my parents.
The reason I dare to wear a bikini is simple: I prefer them to one-pieces. (Mind-blowing, right?)
Bikini bottoms are more flattering on me than squishing my thick thighs through the elastic of a one-piece. While I'm confident about my belly, I hate my thighs (as 89 percent of women are mandated to do, and 99 percent of women are mandated to confess).
I wear a bikini because I dress like a person and not a "mom." Of course, my wardrobe has changed as I've aged and had children. I don't wear mini-skirts anymore because you can't bend in them.
I don't wear heels because you can't chase children while wearing them. I don't wear long, dangly earrings lest my toddler rip them out. I dress more conservatively than I did ten or fifteen years ago, but I also have a different lifestyle now than I used to.
I don't dress to party or dance or drink; I dress to take my sons to the playground or to go to Target.
Despite what the 21-year-old clickbait-writing hacks like to think, as a 38-year-old mother, I can wear whatever the f*ck I want. It's usually T-shirts and jeans, but sometimes, if I'm going swimming, it's a bikini.
After two pregnancies, breastfeeding, weight fluctuations, and postpartum depression, my body hasn't felt like my own in a very long time. My once-perky boobs are now shrunken and flat. I'm scarred; I boast two from my C-sections and three from my endometriosis surgery.
The only thing that remains the same is my cellulite, the same stubborn cellulite that, no matter what my weight, has plagued my butt and thighs since I was 15.
One of the great things about being 38, and not 21 or 15, is that I no longer seek other people's approval or validation about what I wear. I don't care about looking cool, or even thin.
I know that I won't lose those five pounds I always thought I needed to lose (if you didn't know, at birth every woman gets assigned a random number of pounds she'd like to lose as well as a pre-determined "ideal" number for her weight), but I've also learned what to do with my body to take a fairly decent picture.
I avoid profile pictures since they highlight my big, crooked nose and saggy skin under my chin. I finally accepted the obvious and now buy padded bras. I turn sideways to make my shape appear smaller or I hold a kid in front of me — that move never fails.
I take a lot of pictures. Some help me illustrate articles I write; many I use as a way to document our life. (Also, I'm legally required to think my children are adorable and share pictures of them on Facebook.)
So, when my family took a beach vacation I naturally asked someone to snap a picture of us. When I saw it, I paused.
The picture shows our smiling, sun-kissed faces, the sparkling ocean, and my entire, bikini-clad body. My husband held both kids — I was entirely exposed.
I wondered if I should share it. Did I really want a picture of myself in a bikini out there for everyone or anyone to see? Would people roll their eyes or think I wanted to show off my body?
And then I thought: F*ck it.
Nearly six years after having my first child, I'm finally to the point where I feel like I can reclaim my body. I know its flaws, but also its assets. My body isn't what it once was when I was 18 or 28, but I'm not who I was then either.
So, I shared the picture.
Although, I have to admit, I cropped out my thighs, because although I'm a self-confident feminist, I'm still a woman insecure about her damn thighs.