Somehow, somewhere, maybe while I was sleeping… I decided it was time to stop wearing a bikini. At the sprite age of 32. Fine, I’m no spring chicken, but 32 isn’t exactly over the hill. I didn’t decide to stop wearing them because I can’t fit in them either. Actually this has nothing to do with how I look in my bikini. Or maybe it does. But it doesn’t have anything to do with how “good” I do or don’t look.
It just happened. I bought a tankini with a skirt. And I liked it. Here’s why.
1. Beauty is not related to flesh exposure.
I never would have said that I thought the more skin you showed the prettier you were. And yet, when one gets caught up in what everyone else is doing, it’s easy to go with the flow. The shorter the skirt, the tighter the top, etc. the more appealing to the opposite sex. Somehow, the idea that guys thinking you were “hot” was equivalent to being beautiful. Now, I think that’s way off. I think it’s easy to look “hot.” It’s far more difficult to let your femininity and modesty contribute to your beauty.
2. I just felt silly.
I have a few good bikinis in my chest of drawers, but every time I went to the pool or the beach with my three little babies I just felt kind of silly. I felt decidedly, un-motherly. Now, that is a ridiculous statement because being a mother has nothing to do with what you wear. But still, I just felt that covering a little more seemed appropriate. It was a gradual change but now, even though I can still wear my teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikinis, I just don’t feel the need to.
3. I am not on the market.
I guess it’s the same reason people say you get married and “let go” but I no longer dress for what other men might think. Sure, it’s nice to feel and look beautiful. There is no denying that. But my husband freely compliments me and he always wants me to be modest in front of others. Not in an oppressive-I-want-to-take-away-your-rights kind of way. But in an you-are-mine-no-one-else-needs-to-look kind of way. That doesn’t mean I’ll never wear a bikini again. It doesn’t mean I don’t wear short shorts from time to time. It just means that I’m entering into a new season of life where I’m embracing modesty more than ever before. And I’m okay with that.
One particular day I had the good fortune of being alone to swim some laps at the local pool and contemplate life. As you do at the public pool. I noticed a Muslim family of 5. The father and three kids were splashing around in the pool laughing and playing games, in “normal” swimsuits. The mother was standing on the side with a bathing suit unlike any I’ve ever seen. The pants went to her ankles, the shirt went to her wrists and she still had a head covering, though I could see her face. It was navy blue in swimsuit material with a beautiful design. She was laughing and playing and I couldn’t stop staring at her. She was so beautiful.
I couldn’t help but think it ironic that there, at a pool, the most beautiful person in sight was showing only the skin of her hands, feet and face. Then, as if God wanted to make the contrast Himself, a lady got out of the water beside her. She was at least twice her age, two or three times her size, and wearing a bathing suit with a whooooooole lot less material. And it was not pretty. And I had to laugh out loud at the two ladies standing so close yet being so totally and completely different.
I felt compelled to go tell her something. Then I thought how idiotic that would be to a total stranger. But, since I am fond of doing spontaneous idiotic things like this because I’m still not sure if it’s myself or God’s leading, I decided to go for it. On my way out I made my way to where her family was standing. Halfway to her table I wanted to back out because I saw there was, in fact, another family with them but I’d already gotten too close to go back.
I looked at her and said “Excuse me, this is going to sound weird, but I just wanted to tell you that I love your bathing suit.” So, it didn’t start too well. She kinda looked at me like she thought I was making fun of her. I mean, Muslims aren’t entirely amiss in thinking people are wary of their customs. So I clarified with, “Today when girls run around in barely anything with the aim of showing skin, you just look so feminine and modest… someone your little girls can be proud of. I know it sounds silly, but I just think you look beautiful.” I was scared to look at her husband because he was a big dude and, who knows, maybe I sounded like I was hitting on her. But when I did, he was stunned. Then I looked back at her, and her eyes were glistening. She was obviously moved, and was so warm and kind in her thanks.
That day I knew. Beauty has nothing to do with what type of bathing suit we wear or don’t wear. It’s about how we carry ourselves and how we value ourselves. I’m sure I’ll wear my bikinis again someday, but it sure won’t be for the same reasons I used to wear them.
PS. Whether it is wrong to force women to wear such attire is most definitely not my point.
New to this community? Start here, friend.