Get a bikini ready body.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t frequent the Dr. Oz page.
The desire starts early. Our fourteen-year-old just performed in a recital and when she watched the video after she said, “Oh my gosh, my abs are a mess.”
While choosing her swimsuit, she lamented the same.
For the better part of 45 years, I have been discriminating my body and wondering when I would finally be okay with it. Even if I lost 70 pounds, would I be bikini ready? If Sophie, in her perfected, cellulite free frame isn’t bikini ready, who the freak is?
On a recent trip to California to attend our oldest son’s Marine Bootcamp graduation we took a day at the beach.
As we trudged our touristy selves across the white sands of the gold coast, my husband gasped, demanding we all glance a certain direction. We couldn’t unsee what was saw.
Four women, robust women, were playing a lively game of volleyball. The women with similar builds to mine, double D’s – say size 14-ish and a half times 3.14 squared, were barely covered in tiny thong bikinis. Breasts were flailing, and there less than dainty bums were made to only look larger by the division of flesh by the spandex wedges they were donning.
Although it was a bit much to take in, they were perfectly enthralled in their game and utterly oblivious to all else. My swimsuit and cover up could double as a protective covering for a sports car or compact hybrid. I was well hidden, but not hidden enough.
So is a bikini-ready body in the eye of the beholder or in the mindset of the wearer? If you feel completely at ease in your own skin is that what deems your body “ready?” If this is true, then these four volleyball players had cornered the market on “comfortable in my own skin.”
I cannot remember a time when I ever felt this way. Not at 14 and not at 40. After I had finished my second half marathon, I cried all the way home. I hated my running time, flabby thighs, and disastrous abs.
I can remember the same thoughts at 15, 18, 20, 26, and well, you get the gist. There has never been an incident where I felt the confidence or the preparedness to wear a bikini or a thong – ever. Is it a personality attribute or disorder to be so comfortable in one’s flesh that one is always bikini body ready?
Honestly, I wish I could have walked up to the volleyball players and flat out asked, “What’s your secret?”
Although, do I really want to know that particular secret? And if I did, would I find myself flouncing on a beach with a lycra-spandex wedge? Certainly, these women did not care what anyone thought about them or their choice of attire. I guess I can kind of roll with that, getting to a place where you can no longer invest your energies in what other people think. But honestly, it isn’t what other people think so much as what I think. I think I wouldn’t be comfortable in a thong bikini and I am not altogether sure that’s not so bad. The realities are that my goals for my body are completely different than they used to be.
Wellness even looks different. And there are legitimate reasons for this, and they aren’t mind over or matter or peace that flows like a river of queso.
I used to teach water aerobics at the YMCA, 90% of my class participants were over 75. As I dressed before class, I would try to divert my eyes as the elderly women tucked and arranged flesh into 1940’s style bathing dresses with elaborate floral patterns and matching swim caps. The entirety of the dressing for, working out and then redressing to leave took up the entire morning. Bikini ready wasn’t the goal.
Honestly, to just feel good in my own skin would be aces.
But am I doing this for me or the world?
Do I even want to wear a bikini?
I submit I do not. But, a cute pair of shorts or a flouncy summer top, sure. Since I first started writing and decided that I would be bare butt honest I have worn the thong. Although I am not physically wearing a thong, I am wearing a metaphorical one, and I have shown my whole a**. Here is a little more of it…
The first part of my struggle, which I would suggest is a struggle for many Christian women, is that I believed that I was in trouble with God because I wasn’t bikini ready. I believed the lie that bodily perfection was the key to pleasing God. Until I was 100% firm, cellulite free, and fit as a fiddle… He wanted me to work harder. This caused me undue stress and separated me from my inheritance as a daughter. Jesus came to fulfill the heavy laws of the Jewish people, I am not Jewish. Not only was I not invited to the law, but I had the audacity to add to the law with caloric deficits, BMI measurements and the size of my pants.
Laugh, cry… or identify. And perhaps you are fit and firm, but I would propose that you have some golden calf you have smelted and worshiped or some fallacy that you have added to the work of the cross and have kept yourself busy slopping pigs instead of waltzing in the banquet hall.
Furthermore, let’s do an exercise, not aerobic, in parenting. This is a message that I cannot get enough of. The Father God I was working to please was literally the worst parent in the history of parents. He was hateful, mean spirited and had coffee breath.
The God that I met with daily prior to falling into the arms of the REAL JESUS worked like this:
- Meet me a 5:00 with your bible and highlighter…. I don’t care if you were up all night with an injured foster baby, be there or be square.
- Tell me everything you have ever done wrong. No, I don’t care that we’ve already been over it. You can’t be sorry enough.
- Ask me for things you need… if we aren’t in the midst of a hard lesson where I am trying to teach you something, I might help you out. I’ll check my records to see how well you are performing.
- Go workout before the kids get up… GO! NOW! MOVE!
- Weigh yourself… (And yes, you should be ashamed. No breakfast for you!)
- Make your bed, look fantastic, don’t cuss, drink 8/8 ounces glasses of water, no carbs, no fat, no sugar… I can’t believe you are so impossible.
- Don’t yell at the kids.
- I can’t believe you didn’t raise them better than this, forget the stuff you asked for this morning. Until the kids are walking the straight and narrow and Justin is leading praise and worship – I have nothing for you.
- Are you listening to R&B? Change the station to Christian Radio.
- Seinfeld? Chocolate? First of all, I can’t be in the room with smut television. We will discuss your caloric intake when we meet at 5:00 am sharp. I will need you to sacrifice your coffee for the next two day as recompense for your disobedience. Good night. I SAID GOODNIGHT!
And off to bed, I went, vowing to start over Monday. I was utterly defeated, ashamed, and far from bikini ready.
When I fell into the message of Grace the scales (not the bathroom ones) fell off my eyes, and I was undone by the revelation. He invited me to rest. I slept until 6:30 and then relaxed with my bible while the kids watched some cartoons. I was forgiven and redeemed. He invited me to a new place where He showed me why He called himself Father and His only question for me was, how were you parented baby? And how do you parent?
I was parented by my earthly parents adoringly.
They provided for my needs and scrutinized what was best. I parent from a delicate place, not perfectly, but I know my children would call me tender. My touch is warm and soft. Furthermore, I parent according to the needs of my children as individuals. For example, our long-term foster placement, #Joybaby recently returned home to her birthmother. We only just learned that her family has moved out of state. The recent and shocking development has affected all of our children differently. It has impacted my husband and me differently. Our tween is quiet and wants to be with friends. Our five-year-old son, Sam is clingy, weepy and very needy – we accommodate as such.
Why would God call himself Father if He meant cruel dictator?
Why would He allow the brutal sacrifice of His son if there was anything more appropriate to gather us as His children. The blood covenant of sheep and goats was not enough, the only thing that would cure once and for all was the perfected sacrifice of Himself.
The world standard of Bikini Ready can’t meet up in perfected alignment with the varying degrees of the female body. Furthermore, the world standard of Bikini Ready cannot meet up with the perfected alignment God has for each of us as INDIVIDUAL DAUGHTERS. Our bodies, in all their complexities and oddities, cannot be one size fits all because He created us as one size each and only. As I am in tune with the need for a special bag of Skittles on Sophie’s bed and a trip to town to take her to meet her friends so she can grieve and heal, so too am I available to Sam in his destitution. This is my best as parent. Why would I believe God to be less?
It is in this place I am free to explore what Bikini Ready looks like for me. These are now my two best Bikini Ready “tips.”
- This prayer – or heart’s cry: As beloved daughter, Father God open my eyes to what is the best fitness level, diet, exercise and appropriate swim attire for me. What do you have for ME? You know me best. God, you know about my hormones, cravings, favorites, dislikes, and likes. Father, you know my triggers. Lord, you know my shortcomings, and you know the route by which I might overcome. Help me to see what you want me to see. Thank you for freeing me from condemnation. I believe you know me. With my whole heart, I believe you are not mad or upset. With fresh eyes and a renewed mind, I believe the blood worked and I believe you can show me how to live the fullness of my inheritance as your daughter – royalty.
- Stop trying to wear a bikini unless you really want to. The truth is, you may not be bikini ready, and you may never be bikini ready. Swimsuit shopping is not in the Bible. To be in a tiny room with a mirror that enables you to see yourself from behind is the devil’s work. Jesus came to give us life abundant. He came to heal us, free us from heartache and give us peace that surpasses understanding. The Americanized swimsuit shopping ritual isn’t part of your salvation story. To scrutinize your butt according to Vogue fashion models is to be robbed of His loving favor.
I don’t take any negative body image struggle lightly.
I do believe that God is capable of showing me, rather us as women, that He craved us and our freedom unto the flawless sacrifice of the cross. The world and its summer fun fashions, magazines, and low fat, no fat, live better philosophies are no match for the love of a PERFECT FATHER. In the seat of freedom, there is clarity and peace I had not known. When the world is inviting us to frolic in chlorinated waters or on salty beaches half-naked, He is for us and with us.
Lean not on the world, lean not on the next guru to deliver you. Lean into your purchased role as daughter. Signed, sealed and delivered, ready for anything… except maybe a thong.
May your floors be sticky and your swimsuit just right. Love, Jami