Let's close our eyes and go back in time to spring break 2007.
Close your eyes.
Keep 'em closed.
Nobody needs to see this.
It was the height of insecurity season. I had recently lost some weight, so things were looking up, but I wasn't confident in my own skin by any means.
Some college friends and I planned a trip to Pensacola Beach. This was going to be my first "real" spring break trip and I was firedddd up...until I remembered that beach = swimsuit.
Hold up nah.
I wanted to let loose and enjoy the trip, so began the search for a suit that would cover all the parts of my body that made me feel insecure.
After 400 stores or so, I settled on this little number from JC Penney. (Nine years ago and I still remember where I found it!) The suitdress covered pretty much everything I was worried about. At that point, I was as ready as I'd ever be.
We showed up on the Pensacola public beach with our towels, sunscreen, boom box (oh yes we did) and party cups. We were young and stupid and couldn't concern ourselves with silly things like chairs and umbrellas.
My, how times have changed.
I do remember having fun that day, but I also remember comparing myself to my tiny, beautiful friends. Wishing I could sport a bikini as effortlessly as they could. Looking at my thighs, thinly veiled under the wet swimsuit dress that clung to each ripple like a barnacle. And suddenly, overwhelmingly, I regretted that bathing dress. I regretted the whole beach aspect of the trip. I regretted letting myself get to that point of self-loathing.
It was a low point.
But I'm here to tell you that a lot can change in nine years. Like, a whole lot. Fast forward to 2016. Nine years and five Pensacola Beach trips later, I've learned a few tips and tricks to really get your beach body ready for its summertime debut.
1. Be prepared. Your beach body needs to be comfortable. Umbrellas and chairs...totally necessary. And an ice chest, small folding table, and a collapsible tent. Basically an entire moveable compound should suffice.
2. Have a kid. Or borrow someone else's kid. Or tag along on someone else's kid-filled vacay. Going to the beach with an infant/toddler makes you just a bit crazy, and less likely to have time to stress over a bathing suit.
3. Act like a kid again. You will have moments where you have to chase that toddler down the beach before they gallop fearlessly head-first into the waves...and you don't have time to adjust your suit and make sure everything is in place. Chase seagulls. Build sandcastles. Have fun.
4. Stop caring. You eventually realize that no one else is looking at you, let alone caring about what you look like in your suit. So why should you waste a minute of your time caring about what they think?
5. You do you, boo. Learn what styles really work with your body- high waist (yasssss) or high cut or halter or push-up or even a swim dress- you do you.
6. Exude confidence. Or fake it till you make it. You finally understand what made your friends look so good all those years ago- they were confident. Or they were good fakers! Either way, they didn't seem overly concerned with how they looked. They just rocked it!
7. Be thankful. Your body (or in this case, MY body) has gone through a lot in the years between 20 and 30. And it's still there for you. Tiger-stripy and floppy in places, but strong and toned in others. Sunkissed shoulders that you are proud of. Arms that let you carry a 36 pound sleeping toddler half a mile down the beach. Legs that have carried you 26.2 miles...twice. Your body loves you...love it back.
8. Wear whatever you please, and you let your confidence shine. Because what matters most is that you get out there and have fun. If all you remember is how much fun you had, you won't have time to remember whether or not you felt like you had a "beach body."
Are you ready for the beach?
Because the beach is ready for you.