Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Beach baby

Ever since spring break, I have been seeing ads for weight loss and exercise that tout getting your body "beach ready." Many people before me have had the same reaction that I am having, and I'm sure many have expressed it better than I'm about to, but enough is enough.

I think exercise is great. If you want to lose weight, you should go for it. Being healthy is important for both physical and mental well-being. That all being said, quit thinking that people have to look a certain way to enjoy summer activities like the pool or the beach. For the love of God, y'all, summertime is about staying cool, playing, lazy days, ice cream, sunblock, and enjoying oneself. Every single one of us has a beach body: it's our own body that we take with us to the beach. (Don't try to take another body to the beach; that could get creepy.) But, really, what's the hang up? A few extra pounds? Lots of extra pounds? I get it. I have those; however, I'm not going to let that stop me from having a good time.

Here's the thing that might shock you. It's a big one, so brace yourselves. Ready? Deep breath.

No one is really looking at you in your bathing suit.

Well, let's amend that. Yes, people are looking at you in your suit. People actually see you in your suit. Those people, though, don't really think about you after you have passed their line of sight. Why? Because those people are too damn worried about themselves to worry about you and what you're wearing. For the most part, we are selfish creatures. Our vanity overrides many other emotions, so we're more concerned with sucking in our own stomachs than watching other people do the same. Can there be a certain amount of pride in seeing someone at the beach and feeling like we look better? Sure, but I imagine that feeling doesn't last more than a minute. And if you're still thinking about how much better you looked than that other person when you go home at night, you have a problem, and you're kind of a creeper.

My daughter is only 12, and she started having worries about her body image a couple of years ago. That's not something that is innate: that's learned behavior from constantly being barraged with "get skinny" ads. For a long time, I reminded her of all the things her body does for her every day, and that she needs to appreciate it for what it is. The hardest part of that phase was showing her that I can accept my own body for what it is as well. I'll do anything for her, though, and the more I talked to her about it, the easier it got. This body of mine carries extra weight, sure, but it has also served me well in the last 46 years. This body gave me two beautiful, smart, generous, and kind children; this body got me through thyroid cancer; this body helped me pack up and move three houses; this body kept everything as normal as possible while Trevor was fighting colorectal cancer. When I think about it in those terms, I hate that I am always trying to fit the societal norm of what a body should look like.

 So to you, my faithful bag of bones, I ain't mad at cha. As a matter of fact, the past few years of my forties have taught me to give zero fu...I mean, cares, about most stuff that happens. I'm proud of who I am, I'm proud of what I have accomplished, and I couldn't have done any of it without the body that houses my brain, my heart, and my soul. My beach body and I will be at the Dunes this summer, and my pool body and I will be swimming. If you see us, make sure you catch our attention to say hello because chances are we'll be having too much fun in the sun to really notice everyone else around us.