I am 33-years-old. I have given birth to four children. And I wear a bikini.
My body is not perfect. But it is mine. It tells stories of a lifetime. The birthmarks, the bumps, the bruises. The testaments of a clumsy but full life. The stretch marks from adolescence that have never completely faded. The tattoo on the small of my back from a 19-year old's spring break completed at a flea market in Mexico (sorry Mom). The tan lines of wedding bands rarely taken off. The chipped toenail polish of feet that yearn for a pedicure. The calloused fingers from writing too much (though most days it feels like not enough). The map of veins in legs that seem to grow brighter, more present with each year. The hips that are full, the breasts after years of breastfeeding that somehow are not and the abs that will never be 22 again.
I have a body that says life has grown within it. I will not hide it, miracle machine that it is. I will nourish it, protect it and celebrate it. After all, it does house my soul.
And those lives that have flourished within it and now outside of it, are looking at me. Up at me. They watch and listen to how I treat my body and soul. They learn how to treat their own. There is great power in the potential of these everyday moments. Our children take in more than we could ever give them credit for.
So before we judge the best and worst bodies on the beach, let's remember that it takes more confidence to be in the sand than it does to stay inside of a hotel room. Our bodies whisper our deepest memories so let's listen to one another with open minds and respectful eyes. And when you find yourself yearning for that 22-year-old stomach, remember the wisdom that you have gained with each passing year and that is a breathtakingly beautiful thing.
Rock that bathing suit baby. It is just the gift wrap of your radiant soul.