This afternoon, I bought a bikini. Not a tankini. Not a cut out one piece, but an actual bikini.  A bikini.

A bikini.

Anyone who knows me well knows that decades (literally) of body loathing and low self-esteem and confidence have taken their toll, and I haven’t worn one since I was probably around 20 and deemed myself “acceptably thin enough” to pull it off. I haven’t bought a new suit since Q was a baby, so a full six years ago. And that was a one piece and a full-length tankini, which I was never quite comfortable in because heaven forbid it should ride up and show skin. I am no longer “acceptably thin enough” to wear a bikini, and comments I’ve read about women’s bodies and who should and shouldn’t wear things tell me that I should just pretty much wear a bedsheet, because no one wants to see that.

No one wants to see that

Last year I wore a costume for my performance in Vertical Theatre that challenged everything I held true about myself and my body. It was a crop top with a skirt that sat on my hips. The first (and second and maybe even third) time I wore it in front of people I cried. I pretty much had a breakdown over this outfit. I questioned everything I thought about myself and wondered if I could go out in front of people, open myself up to judgment and not give a flying fig about it. I wondered if I was mentally strong enough to do it and I begged to have my costume changed. My mentor, pole mama, and show director refused, saying that the costume was exactly as it was supposed to be, and so was I. She challenged me to question my beliefs and shed the baggage that I had been carrying for so many years. She showed me compassion but tough love and made me do the work to get there. She hugged me when I cried, but she told me that I needed to deal with my own garbage, because that is exactly what it was, garbage.

In the end, I put on that outfit for the shows, danced in front of a few hundred people in it, and rocked the crap out of it. I told myself that I was going to deal with my stuff and buy a bikini after that, but life happened and I didn’t get around to it. The funny part is that we took a holiday to California and then spent a week at the beach and I still didn’t buy a new suit because I couldn’t bear to “put myself through” trying on bathing suits.

Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed

Then some bad stuff happened and my dad died and the fact that you can’t, or shouldn’t, wait to lose 5 more pounds, spend more time in the gym, blah blah blah before you buy that bikini was thrown in my face. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. If you want one, buy one. What other people think doesn’t matter, and the best way to look amazing in it is to feel amazing in it. So today I thought, eff it. Life is too short. Buy the damn bikini. So I did.

You don’t like it? Don’t look.

My body, in whatever shape and size it is, does not exist for your enjoyment or comfort. I will not live my life anymore being afraid to be or do what makes me feel good because some arbitrary person has said that I am not good enough in their eyes to do it, and that included wearing a bikini at the pool or the beach or anywhere else I choose to do so. I encourage you to do the same. Imagine a world where we didn’t live our lives according to what the haters said? If we were comfortable to be free and confident in our own skin? I am not my tummy, or my stretch marks or any of my other flaws, rather, they are a part of me. If I can’t be comfortable in my own skin, enough to accept these things that are less than perfect, how can I expect anyone else to accept me?

You won’t spend your last days wishing you hadn’t done it, rather you will remember the laughter at the beach, the splashing in the pool, and the memories you made while wearing it. So buy the damn bikini already.

This post originally appeared on One Crazy Kid. It has been reprinted with permission.

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