Why I Shared My Post-Baby Bikini Photo On Facebook

Photo: Jen Simon
I Confidently Shared My Post-Baby Body On Facebook
Author
Self

The last time I posted a picture of myself in a bikini online was to MySpace, which is enough to let you know that I am "An Old."

In that picture, I was single and in my 20s, having fun with friends at a rooftop party in Brooklyn.

I'm no longer single (or even close to being in my 20s) and my idea of fun is of the family variety. And Brooklyn?

Nope.

I left it for the 'burbs about a year ago. I'm now a married, 38-year-old mom of two.

According to countless websites and listsicles I shouldn't wear a bikini. And, if I (gasp) dare to wear one, I absolutely shouldn't post my post-baby body online.

After all, common knowledge dictates that I'm going to embarrass myself by how bad/old/uncool/fat/frumpy/mom-like I look. Or, alternately, I'm just posting it to "show off," hoping to bask in the accolades from old high school acquaintances and friends of my parents.

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The reason I dare to wear a bikini is simple: I prefer them to one-pieces. (Mind-blowing, right?)

Bikini bottoms are more flattering on me than squishing my thick thighs through the elastic of a one-piece. While I'm confident about my belly, I hate my thighs (as 89 percent of women are mandated to do, and 99 percent of women are mandated to confess).

I wear a bikini because I dress like a person and not a "mom." Of course, my wardrobe has changed as I've aged and had children. I don't wear mini-skirts anymore because you can't bend in them.

I don't wear heels because you can't chase children while wearing them. I don't wear long, dangly earrings lest my toddler rip them out. I dress more conservatively than I did ten or fifteen years ago, but I also have a different lifestyle now than I used to.

I don't dress to party or dance or drink; I dress to take my sons to the playground or to go to Target.

Despite what the 21-year-old clickbait-writing hacks like to think, as a 38-year-old mother, I can wear whatever the heck I want. It's usually T-shirts and jeans, but sometimes, if I'm going swimming, it's a bikini.

After two pregnancies, breastfeeding, weight fluctuations, and postpartum depression, my body hasn't felt like my own in a very long time. My once-perky boobs are now shrunken and flat. I'm scarred; I boast two from my C-sections and three from my endometriosis surgery.

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The only thing that remains the same is my cellulite, the same stubborn cellulite that, no matter what my weight, has plagued my butt and thighs since I was 15.

One of the great things about being 38, and not 21 or 15, is that I no longer seek other people's approval or validation about what I wear. I don't care about looking cool, or even thin.

I know that I won't lose those five pounds I always thought I needed to lose (if you didn't know, at birth every woman gets assigned a random number of pounds she'd like to lose as well as a pre-determined "ideal" number for her weight), but I've also learned what to do with my body to take a fairly decent picture.

I avoid profile pictures since they highlight my big, crooked nose and saggy skin under my chin. I finally accepted the obvious and now buy padded bras. I turn sideways to make my shape appear smaller or I hold a kid in front of me — that move never fails.

I take a lot of pictures. Some help me illustrate articles I write; many I use as a way to document our life. (Also, I'm legally required to think my children are adorable and share pictures of them on Facebook.)

So, when my family took a beach vacation I naturally asked someone to snap a picture of us. When I saw it, I paused.

The picture shows our smiling, sun-kissed faces, the sparkling ocean, and my entire, bikini-clad body. My husband held both kids I was entirely exposed.

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I wondered if I should share it. Did I really want a picture of myself in a bikini out there for everyone or anyone to see? Would people roll their eyes or think I wanted to show off my body?

And then I thought: Screw it.

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Nearly six years after having my first child, I'm finally to the point where I feel like I can reclaim my body. I know its flaws, but also its assets. My body isn't what it once was when I was 18 or 28, but I'm not who I was then either.

So, I shared the picture.

Photo: Author

Although, I have to admit, I cropped out my thighs, because although I'm a self-confident feminist, I'm still a woman insecure about her damn thighs.

Jen Simon is a Huffington Post blogger and a freelance writer. Her work has appeared on Babble, Scary Mommy, Elephant Journal, The Frisky, Women's Health Online, and more. She has also contributed essays to 3 anthologies.