A few weeks ago while on a family holiday, I was marveling at all of the mums wearing bikinis. Some were totally fit, some were a little softer, some were definitely overweight — but they all looked confident and happy in their two-pieces. I envied those women, thinking to myself that no matter how much I work out or lose weight, I’ll never be able to wear a two-piece again. Before kids, it’s pretty much all I ever wore. Between carrying twins though and a C-section, my lower stomach is sort of wrinkled and loose, and not an area I want to show off.
In the last few months, I’ve tried to embrace a new kind of body confidence, accepting what is, rather than hoping to get back what once was. But it’s all within limits. Like I’ll wear shorts, but not short shorts. I’ll wear skirts, but not mini-skirts. And, as I said, I won’t do a bikini, even though I kind of wish I could.
Then yesterday, I read about Rachel Hollis, the mother of three whose bikini shot is making the rounds on the Internet. More importantly, I saw the bikini shot making the rounds on the Internet. And I thought, “Wow, she looks amazing.” Her slim but curvy body, that cute bathing suit with the orange bandeau top, and that pretty face, laughing, happy, totally at ease. This time though, instead of feeling envious, I felt empowered. I actually felt like, maybe I could — and should — wear a two-piece too. Because while this woman’s tummy was definitely flat, she had the same wrinkled, stretch-marked lower stomach that I have. There she is though, embracing it. And she had this amazing message:
“I have a belly that’s permanently flabby from carrying three giant babies, and I wear a bikini,” she wrote as the caption. “My belly button is saggy … (which is something I didn’t even know was possible before!!) and I wear a bikini. I wear a bikini because I’m proud of this body and every mark on it. Those marks prove that I was blessed enough to carry my babies and that flabby tummy means I worked hard to lose what weight I could. Flaunt that body with pride!”
Seriously, I wanted to cry.
Apparently, I’m not alone. The photo, which was posted on her Facebook page, The Chic Site, has over 10,000 million views, hundreds of thousands of likes on Facebook, over 45,000 shares (and counting). Something about the image and her statement clearly struck a chord, reminding us that maybe our post-baby bodies aren’t what society defines as perfect, but they’re just right. Maybe we don’t look like swimmers models, but we’re still beautiful mamas. And despite the scars and the sagging and the wrinkles, we have nothing to hide.
So, I’m declaring it right now: When summer comes, I’ll be getting back into my bikini. I mean, I’ll probably get a spray tan first and do a million crunches, but I’m inspired by this beautiful mum, and proud of everything my own post-baby body has achieved. And like Rachel, I’m finally ready to wear my mama belly with pride.