Thursday, July 5, 2012

Feminist bikini

Hot, hot, hot! It's going to be a two outfit day: pjs and a swimsuit. The first thing I thought about when I got dressed is which swimsuit am I least embarrassed to be seen in.

This is the first year I believe I have genuine cause to say I'm hating my body. Last year I gained an unprecedented 30 pounds. That while Miss is supposed to be losing weight. ironic, right? Worse: hypocritical.

My 80-year-old mother told me recently that she had never thought of herself as pretty. Sorting through a box of photos she was reintroduced to her young mother self of 50 years ago. She realized, in fact, that she was attractive. (A statement my father confirmed with a look of fond memories upon his face.)

Yesterday looking at the beautiful (drunken) young adults partying at the sand bar, I realized that you have to be either smart or beautiful to have a chance of climbing that ladder of the American dream. If you are blessed with both you probably have noone but yourself to blame if you don't excel in a field you are passionate about.

But if you aren't smart or attractive, you'll have to work hard to make it. Google some of the singers of the 40's or the US President's of the 1800's. Many of them would have never have made it today because of their looks. It's not a coincidence that our first black president is also a heart throb.

Today's girls grow up flooded with a narrow ideal of beauty. It's no wonder that my 14-year-old niece feels fat. I felt exactly the same way 40 years and 70 pounds ago.
Mind you until adding those last 30 pounds, I was not remotely fat by the objective BMI standard. Yet every year, until last year when I pushed myself to live in my own skin, I felt the insecurity of unattractiveness that all the women I know feel.

My BFF asked me to write about fat as a feminist issue while on my vacation. I find she is right, while at the same time I want to rouse myself from the comforting emotional blanket that food has been for me. I also want to get in shape (strong and in a healthy BMI zone) so I can be as vital as my aged (but not elderly) parents are today.

This year I am wearing the first bikini I have owned since I grew aware of boys too many years back to count. And while I am wearing a unstructured tankini on top (brilliantly offered by Land's End which appears to understand how women feel about their bodies); next year I expect myself to be healthy enough to wear it proud.

Dear Reader, what do you think? Girls, am I right? Do you feel insecure about your attractiveness? Mothers, how do you help your teen daughter love her unique and beautiful body? Is fat a feminist issue? Please leave a comment below.