Yesterday I went to the mall because I heard the sales were off the chart this year and I needed a new bathing suit. My other one is four years old and all the elastic has come out of it. The bottom droops like a wet diaper and the straps won't stay on my shoulders. I loved that suit. It was a black one-piece with lots of ruching and although it's pretty bulky, I've always felt that it was age appropriate (I'm 41) and the right level of modesty and frumpiness for the mom of a preschooler.
My bikini days were over. Or so I thought.
At the mall, where, yes the sales were phenomenal, I found a sexy black bikini. It was the two-piece of my dreams. Halter top, side ties on the bottoms. I could've launched a thousand ships wearing this thing twenty years ago. Since the suit was only ten bucks, I decided to try it on for fun. I don't know what possessed me. I really wanted it. I wanted to see how I would look.
I did not look even remotely close to a Victoria's Secret model in the black two piece. I still had a flat butt and saggy boobs and a pot belly. All of my cellulite was present for the event. But the thing was, I felt really good in the bikini. Like, extremely comfortable and I wanted to wear the suit to the beach BBQ some friends were hosting later in the day.
Wearing a sexy black bikini to a social event is wayyy out of my comfort zone. Ordinarily I would've worn the old one piece standby and refused to remove my cover-up. This was very out of character for me.
I stood in line for a half hour to buy this thing. The mall was so crowded. So many people were out taking advantage of the sales. It was like half of my world was out shopping and the other half was at the beach. The traffic was painful and when we finally got to our friend's place, I was ready to get in the water.
Petrified of wearing a two-piece in public, I sucked it up and sucked it in, took a deep breath and put the thing on.
And then I went to a party on the beach in front of lots of and lots of people wearing a tiny amount of fabric on an imperfect body and absolutely nothing happened.
No one laughed or pointed or took secret pictures of me on their phones to make fat girl memes out of and spread all over the Internet. Seriously. Nothing happened. I wasn't complimented or insulted. No one cared what I looked like, even me, and I had a really good time and was comfortable in what I was wearing. I went swimming. I sat on the sand. End of story.
I felt so brave. I was so proud of myself for doing this.
But when I really began to reflect on the moment, I realized that I was an idiot.
Wearing a two-piece bathing suit out in public isn't even remotely brave.
Wearing a brand-new, bikini on a public beach to a BBQ with friends on Memorial Day weekend is lucky.
Lately I've seen a lot of articles going around about being brave and vulnerable and authentic and while this is all well and good, and while I acknowledge that exposing one's flaws both literally and figuratively is frightening and difficult, I think the word brave is a bit over-used. We need to reserve it for the true heroes.
A true hero is not a forty-one year old, white mom wearing a bikini in front of lots of people. That's just somebody having a good time celebrating her privilege.
Calling myself brave in that circumstance would sure take a lot of nerve.
It's easy to forget what Memorial Day is really about. Hint: it's not about really good sales, BBQs or even the unofficial start of summer.
Memorial Day honors all the men and women who have selflessly given their lives, who have suffered, who have been tortured, who have faced real enemies (not just the ones we all make up in our heads) and who have braved horrific terrors to protect us. They are the reason that we can have the parties and celebrate with our families and friends. They are why I can freely wear a bikini on the beach and I am grateful.
It's okay to have a good time, but today, let's not forget those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Let's not get so caught up in our own stories that we lose sight of true bravery.
And sure, wear whatever you want to the beach or to the pool. Nobody cares. I promise.