What is it about summer that sneaks up on us every year? Spring passes in the blink of an eye, and suddenly the days are blazing hot and the magazine covers at the grocery store are suddenly reminding us that we forgot to get our summer bods. GASP!
And so, like clockwork, out come the beach cover-ups and the one-pieces with the skirted bottoms and — how can we forget — the long t-shirts that cover up whatever else we’re looking to cover up.
But at least one mom is saying “screw it” to all the body loathing at the beach this year — and the Internet is saying hell yeah.
Adrian Wood, a Babble contributor and the writer behind Tales of an Educated Debutante, has tossed her long t-shirt for good this summer. Because as it turns out, the only thing you need to have a “summer body” is a body — in the summer.
In a July 11 Facebook post, Wood shares a story about the liberating day she put on a bikini for the first time in 20 years. At first, it was scary. Then it was liberating. And when all was said and done? It. was. glorious.
“Are you going swimming? Where is your shirt? The questions of my daughter,” Wood begins. “She turns eight on Sunday and she only knows a mother that swims in a shirt. When had I become that person?”
The truth is, so many of us have become “that person” — the one who hides herself behind her clothes to try and forget that over the years, our bodies change. Our skin sags our bellies grow, and things … well, they start to look different.
Wood continues, almost poetically, speaking to her inner self:
“You haven’t worn a bikini top in twenty something years. Why not?
Your stomach hasn’t seen the light of day since you were thirty thirty pounds lighter. Why not?
You used to be so confident, I tell myself.
I used to love myself.
Why does it matter? Does it even matter? Who cares?
The little girl that scrutinizes her mother at every step, every turn, every crossroad and yes, even every shirt.”
Wood tells Babble that she was inspired to wear a bikini after having an eye-opening conversation with her daughter about her weight, and being reminded of just how much her own body image impacts her daughter’s.
That’s when she realized it was time to ditch the t-shirt — and her fears.
“Today I took it off and I was more uneasy than I care to admit, ashamed almost,” Wood continues in her post. “Pale belly, full breasts, thick torso, I haven’t been that exposed on a beach since I became a mother.
It’s that voice.
The ones that chastises me to cover up.
The one that whispers in my ear, you’re not so young anymore.
The one that remembers every flaw, every dimple, every soft place.”
Speaking with Babble, Wood admits that she was actually more afraid to take off her shirt than share the photo on Facebook later.
“I had no idea that I had been covering an awful lot beneath that shirt,” she shares. “I like to reduce sun exposure but there’s more there than that. The fact that my daughter seemed so shocked at me without a shirt on meant that I had to share. What if I hadn’t ever known and raised a daughter whose mother didn’t practice what she preached? As I crossed the wide beach, I was aware that it was me that was thinking about me, no one else. Just me; and I don’t want to waste valuable time on such nonsense.”
Far too many of us reside in this place of complacent body-loathing — especially after having kids. Because while it’s one thing to see viral posts from strangers embracing the skin they’re in, it is quite another to actually live that truth. To ditch the cover ups and remember all that our bodies have done for us.
And that right there is at the heart of Wood’s post:
“You are flawed, I tell myself. Scars, battle wounds, a c-section scar, none are pretty but they tell a beautiful story.
You are soft, I tell myself. Four babies burrowed their downy heads into my chest many an evening.
You are older, I tell myself. I’m in my forties now and with age, I’ve matured and learned and am still learning to silence the voice that says you’re not enough.”
But she is learning; and while it may have taken her two decades to get herself back in that bikini, it’s been more than worth it:
“I am enough,” she concludes. “I am more than enough. I am strong. I am imperfect and I love with my whole heart.
Where’s my shirt?
Well, my darling, I don’t need it anymore.”
She certainly doesn’t.
Wood’s message is clearly resonating with moms everywhere — in just a few short hours, it climbed to over 2K likes on Facebook, and racked up hundreds of comments.
And to those moms out there who are still struggling each day to accept the bodies they see in the mirror, Wood has one more message to share:
“You know, today is the best day. If you’re living for tomorrow or someday or just when or next year, you’re gonna miss out on a lot of fun and I just don’t want to miss it anymore. This was a big step for me but I’ll say, the second swim was much easier.”