I haven’t worn a bikini since I was 13 and inwardly struggled with my “outie” belly-button. Oh, I remember the summer of 1974…I spent every afternoon of my 9th grade summer with 4 or 5 of my girlfriends all oozing in baby oil infused with iodine to ensure our bronze tans. The junior high bikini was green and yellow and had palm trees all over it. I weighed 118 pounds so there wasn’t much to filling it out. It simply fit. Well.
Since then I’ve become a Mom 3 times over and gained a collective 150 pounds (not 150 pounds, but 50 pounds 3 different times). My youngest is 21 and in his 4th year of college and I’m still holding onto the baby weight for dear life…a whopping 66 pounds heavier than my summer lovin’ days of 1974. I’ve been on a weight loss campaign and have lost 24 pounds simply by cutting back the food intake and walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes a day, six days a week.
Weight loss is simple. Move more. Eat less. Drink water. We all know the drill. We simply don’t do it.
Twenty-four pounds lighter feels good. I’m motivated to lose more. At least 24 pounds more. Because I was feeling SO motivated, I bought a bikini in red white and blue (very flaglike), mainly for the tan lines I’d get. This is the first bikini I’ve purchased in 37 years! I tried it on for my hubby and my son caught a glimpse. His first word was “Gross.” So much for the middle-aged hot mama. Even gravity has turned my “outie” belly button into an “innie.” Thank God for small miracles.
Day 1: Wearing a bikini to a public pool at age 50 is challenging. By this time in my life, I know that rarely does anyone even think about you let alone look at you. However, there’s still a chance I’ll be outed as the 50-year old bikini wearer so I slink into the pool deck in my aqua cover-up and scout for the lounge chair farthest away from people. I succeed.
Day 2: It’s a Saturday. The hot college guys with their six-packs (abs, not beer) and tattoos and their girlfriends have decided to make a day of it at the pool complete with coolers and shades. There’s a Dad and his daughter treading water in the deep end. A couple on the pool deck sipping margaritas. A middle-aged woman in a dark-blue one piece (aka incognito). A group of friends discussing the military. And then there’s me.
I panic. There’s no pool deck chairs and my anxiety is sky-high. Perhaps I should just leave.
No. I’ll stay. I only need 30 minutes. The ozone alert has been shouted and it’s 92 degrees out. I won’t stay long.
And then I spot them. The triple threat across the pool deck. Hiding behind their sunglasses. But they’re already snickering. The girl whose the ringleader is nudging her guy friends to watch me take off the cover-up.
Not to be deterred, I grab a regular chair and lay my towels down on the ground. I glance at my Better Homes and Garden magazine. I sweat. I sip my QT Diet-Coke. I dawdle. But there’s no getting around it. The cover up’s gonna come off.
I disrobe and slither to the pool deck but not before I catch a mind-searing glimpse of the three college-aged stooges slapping each other on the legs and giggling outrageously at me. My shades lock with theirs. They know I’ve seen them. I know they’ve seen me.
And then the shame sets in. I banter the rhetoric in my mind. I suck in my gut and lay totally flat, hoping the middle-aged belly will at least lay still. I consider outing them, making a public display by walking around the pool in my full red white and blue glory and confronting them for their bad behavior and atrocious manners.
But I do nothing. For this is the epitome of vulnerability. I’m not the biggest woman at the pool by any means. The two lesbians sitting next to me are at least 50-75 pounds heavier and the Margarita woman in her black bikini is at least 50 pounds heavier. I’m simply their target for fun.
I’ve been studying the book of James and it says to be slow to anger and slow to speak. I’m neither. I’m mad as a wet hen.
I think of at least 3 good comebacks to their laughter…”when you’re perfect, let me know”…”karma is a bitch”…and to the girl “you look like a beanpole, let me know when you grow some curves” and decide they’re simply not worth it. I will not be better by wounding them. Even in my own defense.
Day 3: I skip the pool even though it’s sunny and 90. I’m a bit skittish. Now I know how children who are bullied feel. You may walk away with your head held high but you’re still wounded on the inside.
I’m keeping the bikini. The tan lines are progressing quite nicely. I did something “way outside my comfort zone” and got zapped by the nasty mean people. It won’t deter me indefinitely. Confidence is the inner faith that casts an outer glow. I’ve got an arsenal. I’m simply going to keep working on my beach body and the remaining 24 pounds.