Not Everyone Should Wear A Bikini
I remember trying on my first bikini. I was in 4th grade in the Old Navy dressing room with my mom. I was tiny at the time, but the bikini was even smaller than I could imagine. I was comfortable with my body but not comfortable showing it to anyone, so I felt completely exposed standing in front of the mirror with only triangles to cover me. But all my friends were wearing bikinis, so naturally, I bought it.
But not everyone should wear a bikini.
Bikinis have become some pinnacle of health, the goal for exercise and comparison. There are bikini body building competitions, bikini body workouts, and bikinis staring you in the face as soon as you walk into Target (just past the Dollar Spot).
As a personal trainer, most people tell me they workout because they want to be "fit for life," but others just want to feel more confident in their swim suit. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that motivation, as long as they aren’t putting their hopes into their beach body.
It’s good to train and workout to be healthier and happier, and feeling confident in a swim suit (whichever one you choose) can help you think less about yourself and enjoy the poolside experience more. But our body is more than clothes, and life is more than the body (Luke 12:23). Our hope and focus is ultimately in the Lord, who will outlast both!
A Swim Suit Allows Us To Swim
Since when did swim suits become swim eye patches? When I think of a suit, I think of a fully covered man on Wall Street in a nice suit. Now when I think of a bikini, I think of a bra. I’m just not comfortable wearing a bra in public, especially while trying to chase my two year old around the edge of a slippery pool. Just because you have a good body, it doesn’t mean you have to bend to the pressure of the latest swimsuit fashion.
We need to feel like the swim suit allows us to do the activity it was made for: swimming.
I know every person has a different story with bathing suits. One of my friends has the opposite experience as me: she started with conservative one pieces and gradually gave herself permission to buy a bikini when she was in college. Now as a mom of three, she wears whatever allows her to be in the pool with her kids, whether that be a bikini or a one piece. We all have different stories, different bodies, and different preferences. Don't let anyone shame you into wearing something you're not comfortable with.
Swim Suit Shame
“Come on in! The water’s fine!”
“No thanks, I think I’ll just sit here in my cover-up.”
No way! Don’t let your swim suit keep you from swimming! If it does, get yourself a new suit. You’re free to wear what fits you!
Don't let your body keep you from having fun! If you still hear some gnat-like voice buzzing in your ear and saying nasty things like, “everyone is looking at me,” or “I need a tan before you make an appearance on the beach,” or the one I hear in my mind: “they're going to look at me and say, 'she has a belly—isn’t she a fitness instructor?'" Swat that gnat away! Test these voices against scripture:
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” -Philippians 4:8
Is what you’re hearing about your body (whether from yourself or from others) true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, worthy of praise? If not, get it out of your mind, and certainly don't let the thought make a nest. Ask the Lord to guard your heart and mind through the peace of God’s presence (Phil. 4:7) and don’t entertain those thoughts or let them rule your summer.
Which brings us to the next question: who are you wearing that swim suit for?
A swim suit goes on your body, but who are you really dressing for when you go to the beach or pool? You can ask a few questions to check your heart's intentions. Are you dressing for:
- Yourself: Does this swimsuit make you think about yourself more or less when you put it on? Are you able to do what Philippians 2:3 says: "Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves”?
- A romantic interest: Does the swim suit you wear respect him and the relationship?
- Your kids: Are you able to move around without constantly readjusting?
- Others: Who are these others, and are you using them as comparisons?
When I was younger, I wore a bathing suit for myself. Then I became aware of others who might be looking at me: friends, boys, basically anyone else around. I always felt like people were looking at me when I was in a swimsuit, like there was some swimsuit spotlight shining as soon as the coverup came off, and that spotlight made me want to hide instead of dance.
As I got older, I gave myself permission to buy and wear a bathing suit that made me feel comfortable. When people ask me why I don't wear a bikini, I just tell them I feel better in a tankini or one-piece. Currently, I’m really into the peplum tops that hide my belly button that pokes out from diastasis recti. I focus less on myself when it's covered. “But what about getting your stomach tan?” people ask me. The only person in my life who sees my stomach other than me is my husband, and a tan stomach isn't that important to him.
The hard part about shopping for the right swim suit is finding one is cute, fits well, and isn't a million dollars. Le sigh. Makes me remember we aren’t fit for this earth anyways (Hebrews 11:13-16).
Friends, not everyone should wear a bikini. Wear a swim suit that fits you--both your body and your conscience. Wear something that allows you to feel comfortable with yourself to focus on what matters. Wear a swim suit to swim, and enjoy this season!
Reflect and Respond
1. What is your first memory of a swim suit? How do you feel about them now?
2. Do you ever feel the pressure to conform to certain swimsuit fashions?
3. Do you let thoughts of shame rule your summer? Test those thoughts against Philippians 4:8. Swat away any false accusations and remember that when the Lord created you, He said you are, “very good” (Genesis 1:31).
4. Who are you wearing your swimsuit for?
5. What style of swim suit are you into right now? What are some of your favorite swim suit companies? I would love to try Albion Fit someday. Share your favorites!