How to Have a Carefree Bikini Season

me and my mom in the pool

Here’s how to have a carefree bikini season:

  1. Buy a bikini.
  2. Wear it.

For some women, especially the young and beautiful, this is a no brainer. But not for me. These two steps took lots of courage.

I have never been a bikini-wearer. Even when I was young and thin, I had the firmly planted idea that my body wasn’t good enough. I was skinny, not shapely. Better to stick with the racing suit. After all, I swam lots of laps in those days, so it was, as the bikini is to the shapely girl, a no brainer.

Fast forward to age 50 when I realize, who really cares? I bought myself a brand new, gorgeous bikini. Step 1.

Now for the (much) harder Step 2.

For the unveiling, I went with my mother to her community pool, which is the pool where I had my first swim lessons at age 6. Let me digress and tell you about those lessons. I was terrible. But I loved the lifeguard who taught me, a young, blonde college girl who was so kind and patient and happy. I wasn’t a natural. I don’t think I learned anything that summer. But we had fun.

Over the next few summers, my lessons at camp didn’t take me much further. I was a sinker with fearful, flailing limbs. I was a Perch with the little kids, learning (still) how to float on my back, while my friends, all Sharks, dove off the diving board. My younger brother, who was following along in my lead footsteps, climbed a giant metal slide (a way-taller version of the typical playground “sliding ponds,” as we called them), and sunk to the bottom of the deep end (let’s say camp supervision was lax in those days). While I was practicing the prone float in two-foot waters, my brother was practicing it in a slightly different manner. They rescued him, and after a bunch more fun summers swimming in black man-made lakes, we both grew up to be Red Cross lifeguards, and eventually Water Safety Instructors, able to dive off high boards, swim perfectly, teach kids, and rescue people. Weird how things turn out.

I know what drove me. I wanted to be a Shark with my friends. I decided to overcome my fear of the water.

All these years later, walking under that wooden archway entrance to the community pool, I am deciding to overcome my fear of the bikini.

How did Step 2 go? I swam and frolicked, free as a dolphin. I floated with my bare belly to the sun. I bobbed around in the middle with my mom, chatting about fluff.

I did it. I conquered the bikini. I said no to the fear of drowning–isn’t it always some version of drowning we fear, whether in water or humiliation?

So. What’s my next fear to tackle? Posting this story. If you’re reading it, I’ve succeeded. Sometimes it all boils down to the Nike slogan: just do it.

At the end of our pool day, my mom said with sincere delight, “We look great together!” As you can see from my picture at the top, she’s absolutely right.




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