In My Own Skin: Bathing Suits and Body Image

in my own skin I turn this way and that, looking over my shoulder in the mirror, noting my curves. Some I appreciate, some I don't.

Slipping the smooth fabric between my fingertips, I feel it fall against my skin. Hands to hips, I consciously leave it be.

The first hot day of summer is finally here, and I'm trying to decide how I like my new swimsuit. The colors, the fit, the feel. But one layer deeper, I guess I'm trying to decide how I feel about me.

Lashes raised, I peek into the mirror just one more time and see eyes that match my own — hazel and wide and fierce — watching me. My daughter.

“I'm trying on my new swimsuit…”  I narrate to her in my mothering way. My voice is shaky, unsure. My point mirrors the feeling.

“You're so pretty,” my daughter says. Her voice is clear, her point is made.

I turn away from that mirror and slip my fingers through hers. We gather the rest of our five, and head to the pool. 

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Once there, our three jump into the water in the way that kids do. As if the cold kisses their skin rather than harshens it.

Jason and I walk in more tentatively and make our way to the edge. Once I feel cool water on warm hips, I lean my elbows against the concrete, slip my sunglasses on, and watch.

I see my children, of course, splashing unabashedly. Chin tipped to sky, mouth open wide, laughter filling the space between turquoise water and lemonade sunshine.

My husband by my side, one ankle crossed over the other, marathon training touching his face, his chest, his arms. He slides closer to me, his shoulders and thighs grazing mine.

A woman treads by us carefully. Her strong arms already golden, blond hair piled high on her head. She's wearing a black, ruffled bikini, framing a very pregnant body. She places her fingertips on that belly, protecting what's inside. She pauses as she passes us, eyes on our kids. Shoulders back, smile wide, hands splayed.

To my left, another mother holds a midnight-haired, diapered baby in a red sunhat on her shoulder. She murmurs in his ear and sways. His eyes close, his lips loosen around his pacifier. She turns. Her black curls graze a dragon tattoo on her bare back.

I’m lost in thought when cold water shocks my hair, my cheeks, my shoulders. I hear Jason gasp by my side and know he feels the same. We pivot toward each other and see our three standing behind us, pool toys in hand. Eyes lit, laughter contagious. They got us.

I meet Jason's eyes, and we join them in laughter and fun and together. Golden threads of summer weaving between us.

The women framing our space in the pool laugh, too. 

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Much like those mothers with their hands around full bellies and tiny babies, I'm grateful to be in my own skin in this moment. It's full in its own way, and for the first time in a long time, I realize that's OK. It tells my story.

In the eyes of my daughter, I'm so pretty.

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In the eyes of these other mothers, I dive into moments with my children.

In the eyes of my husband, I'm gaze-worthy.

These are presents, each and every one of them.

But the most important gifts are the ones one I give myself.

In one hand, I'm not tugging or pulling or placing or really thinking about my swimsuit or my body. My own shoulders are back, my own smile is wide.

And in the other, I'm allowing myself one tiny moment to see myself in the way that others might. This is both lifting and freeing. When we loosen the claws of our own perceptions, what we see is light.

What do you think?

In My Own Skin: Bathing Suits and Body Image

Galit Breen is the bestselling author of Kindness Wins, a simple guide to teaching your child to be kind online; the TEDx Talk, “Raising a digital kid without having been one”; the online course Raise Your Digital Kid™; and the Facebook group The Savvy Parents Club. She believes you can get your child a phone and still create a grass-beneath-their-bare-feet childhood for them. Galit’s writing has been featured on The Huffington Post; The Washington Post; Buzzfeed; TIME; and more. She liv ... More

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14 comments

  1. We HAVE to go easier on ourselves for the sake of our children. This is a beautiful post, Galit and I am so grateful to you for sharing your story. You, my friend are an amazing mother and role model.

  2. Ewa says:

    beautiful story, Galit! It touches all of us, mothers.
    I have experienced the same thing with my daughter watching me while I was looking at myself in the mirror. She caught me off guard, and I felt so terrible about it. I want to be an example for my daughters. I want to be strong and teach them how to accept all the imperfections. But first I must learn to do it for myself.

  3. gfunkified says:

    " When we loosen the claws." They sure do have tight hold sometimes, don’t they? But you’re right… it is so freeing to get out of our own heads and take life in, the way it really is… the way we really are.

  4. cyu888 says:

    Oh I love this post so much Galit. So beautiful in every way. And that last line is perfection.

  5. NinaBadzin says:

    This is a fantastic post that so many can relate to right now. I really loved the honesty in this line: "But one layer deeper, I guess I’m trying to decide how I feel about me."

  6. charmingexit says:

    You are an inspiration. Thanks for sharing your story.

  7. Elaine says:

    I’m getting there… And our kids love us just as we are. That’s the extra beautiful part. Lovely words as always, Galit.

  8. Leigh says:

    I love this. I had a similar moment the first time we went to the pool last year. I was feeling so insecure, and my Rachel, then 4, just wrapped her arms around my neck and said, "Mommy, you’re beautiful." It changed my whole perception.

  9. RobinFarr says:

    Lovely, mama. You inspire me to try harder.

  10. Such a lovely reminder Galit. And that last line is perfection.

  11. ilenemevans says:

    I love that last line more than I can tell you and it’s so true. When we loosen the claws of our own perception, the whole world opens up, doesn’t it? LOVE

  12. Beautiful. You’ve brought tears to my eyes.

  13. Alison Lee says:

    That’s lovely, Galit. I wish I was a little more comfortable in my own skin. Some day, soon, I hope.

  14. nydia rivera says:

    Good for you, I wish I was comfortable in my own skin.

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