When I got the email that Target was looking for bloggers to pose in their swimsuits on Instagram and Facebook, the only reason I didn’t immediately delete is because of a moment in Florida a few months previous.
We had traveled to the beach in Florida for a friend’s wedding. The lineage of our ties to the bride and groom to be derive from my husband’s side, and the group is a tall, burly bunch of guys, all very successful and when I first met them, very intimidating. Now, they’re buddies and like family with their own kids, wives, ex-wives and girlfriends.
On this particular vacation I’d be donning a bathing suit in front of them. As a 40-something adult who has better things to worry about, this should have been inconsequential, but somehow wearing a swimsuit never is. I kind of dreaded it, in no small part because I weighed more than I ever had before in my life. The scale had tipped 140 pounds and I still couldn’t believe it every time the numbers showed up. I had maxed out at 136 in college as part of the freshman 15 ritual.
But I persevered even though the cellulite on my thighs was hyper-reflective like mini beacons. It was hot and we were at the beach and I wore the damn bikini. Frida was blissful, running around in the sand and waves that were much warmer and gentler than in our Northern California beach. I envied and loved with a vengeance her lack of self-consciousness.
We were playing in the gentle waves and I picked up Frida to walk out a little further in the surf. She squealed and grabbed onto my shoulders, burying her face in my neck. I looked out at the lightly cloud-streaked horizon and suddenly realized the insignificance of my cellulite. I tuned into my 3-year-old clinging to me, her little wet limbs squeezing my torso; my strength to hold up her 35 pounds, the blue and white sky, the sun’s warmth. I was “present” as they say, and I realized why everyone makes such a big deal out of it. My American thighs, my thick arms, the extra roll on my stomach were, in fact, inconsequential at that moment and the only thing left was joy—that kind that makes tears. That’s usually how I know when I’m fully present, I start crying. It happens at dance class and yoga, too.
So when I got the email from Target, I thought, yes, I will don a swimsuit on social media if only to help others have a teary moment of their own. Because when we can forget about our hangups and truly do not give a shit whether others might be judging us for this or that (so hard), those moments are what make us human. Those times are life.
Never dreamed I’d be wearing a bathing suit in an Instagram snap?but here I am helping Target promote positive body image for all women regardless of age and type. I never want to miss a day at the beach with Frida because I’m self-conscious about my body, which by the way has never weighed more than it does right now. Hello first 1 pc in 20 years! @targetstyle #nofomo #sponsored #targetswim2016 #targetstyle
A note on the photos: I planned for my husband to shoot with me on Thursday, since the posts were due on Friday. We are not really a good photo shoot team (read: we argue like assholes every time), and I feared a bathing suit shoot might end in divorce, but I also couldn’t imagine letting anyone else take my picture a swimsuit.
It turned out he had to make a last minute trip to Southern California to visit his parents, and he was leaving Thursday morning. No time for a shoot! I thought I might have to bow out of the collab, but Jennifer Henry-Novich over at Just Add Glam (bless her!) encouraged me to go the selfie route, which worked out pretty OK. Yes I have a small person blocking part of my body in one of the photos. That was not just a happy outcome for my persistent insecurities but also unavoidable because I didn’t have daycare that day.
Also, yes, I did use filters, mainly to lighten the photos so you could see the details of the suits, and maybe a little bit to make me look better.
Disclosure: Target provided the swimsuits in this post, and I was paid for the social media posts but not for this blog post.