Bikini season is just around the corner. Says every women’s magazine currently in distribution- 5 Essential Pieces of Hot Bikini Body Wisdom, The No-Diet Bikini Secret, The Best Swimsuit for Your Body Shape!
When you compare the amount of time these magazines demand you devote to getting “bikini ready” to time you’ll actually wear said bikini, the ratio is abysmally similar to the male to female ratio at a motorcycle convention.
It’s enough to make a lady gather every women’s magazine in circulation and air lift them to a secluded beach. As the periodicals are dumped into a huge pit, we’ll sprinkle lighter fluid on the smiling faces of the cover models. With a sparkler in one hand and a chocolate eclair in the other, we’ll scream with glee as we light the blaze. Late into the night as the fire rages, we’ll dance around the pire to a playlist of Madonna and Alanis Morissette. We’ll drink margaritas and toast to never baring our bellies in public again!
A girl can dream. The reality is swimsuit season arrived early this year for me. Last week I accepted a job promoting a new walk for breast cancer. “How wonderful to work for such a fantastic cause!” I thought, “Sounds like an amazing event!” Then they told me that the uniform: black athletic pants and elaborately decorated bra. The team would all be wearing bras on the streets of New York City. It doesn’t get more belly blaring than that.
As a woman who has dedicated entire essays to the fact that she is a size four and the claim that she is pretty, it might come as a surprise that I feel self-conscious in a bikini on the beach. I rarely walk around my apartment in my bra, could I actually walk around New York so exposed? I would honestly much rather wear a one piece, but for the past few summers I’ve tried to rock a bikini because I feel I owe it to my 46 year-old self. In my mind we have this conversation:
40-year-old me: Why don’t you want to wear a bikini, missy? Your twenties are the time for exposing skin!
26-year-old me: Oh, but my stomach is ghostly pale! It wouldn’t be so bad if my whole body was pale, but my belly is always three shades paler than my extremities! I look like a penguin!
40-year-old me: How dare you! You do not look like a penguin and you know it! Do you realize how thin you are? No one cares about your pale stomach! A pale belly makes you look smart- it says you don’t want skin cancer and think spray tanning is dumb!
26-year-old me: It’s not just my penguin coloring. My lack of muscle tone, easily hidden by clothes, becomes grossly apparent when on display in a bikini! Why show that off?
40-year-old me: Shut up. You have a great body, you stupid, naive child. I’d kill for your body! Don’t give me that face, no one notices those bacne scars but you! You think those perky things on your chest are too small? Don’t even talk to me. You go to your room this instant, young lady, and you put on a bikini. While you still can! You owe me!
That is how I see myself in 2026 looking back at me now at 26. So I bought a bikini, and I’ve worn it a couple times. But I never felt comfortable, even though I know I should, and often changed back into my trusty one piece.
Out on the streets on NYC, there was no one-piece option. I was in a bra decorated with red, white, and blue fabric flowers. The weather was in the mid-sixties, so I felt justified leaving my jacket on. Everyone else on the team was wearing theirs too. We walked around Bryant Park all afternoon handing out flyers, creating catch phrases like, Support breasts, fight cancer!
The public response was overwhelmingly positive. A group of teenagers even told me they liked my outfit. I know crop-tops are trendy right now, but I have to wonder it they actually thought I was wearing it for style! Not once, even in midtown Manhattan did I receive a look that said, “Girl, you need to put a shirt on.” I was shocked.
By the end of the week when the temperatures rose to the high 6os, I felt confident enough to just wear the bra, this time a mermaid themed one, complete with clam shells. Of course it helped being with the team of bra-clad ladies. And one lovely gentleman! Men can support breast cancer awareness too!
After baring it on the streets of America’s greatest metropolis, I now have no qualms over saying to my 40 year-old self, “You’re right! I do have a great body!” It’s a pretty fabulous feeling. There are two directions to go from here. This summer, I can rock a bikini with my new found uber-confidence. Or….I can say, “Hey 40-year-old self, remember that time I wore a bra out in NYC? After that, I owe you nothing.” I’ll hit the beach in a (stylish of course, I’m thinking a vintage-look halter) one-piece and never for one second think, “Jeez, I wish I had the body for a bikini!” Because I do, dammit, I just might not choose to flaunt it!
What are your thoughts on bikini season? What did it take for you to feel comfortable in your bikini, or do you proudly wear a one-piece? And, I gotta ask- Do you think I’m crazy for working this job?
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