Memorial Day and the unofficial kickoff to summer are four weeks from today. Which means every magazine and online advertising property geared toward women is running some near-hysterics version of OMG ARE YOU READY TO INFLICT YOUR BIKINI CLAD BOD ON AN UNSUSPECTING POPULATION?

That’s how marketing works. It creates the need in your mind, and then rushes to help you fill it. With juice cleanses, and bootcamps, and slimming panels, and magazine articles.

Lately, I’ve been seeing more sensible women posting a two-step program to a bikini body. It goes like this:

Step One. Buy a bikini.

Step Two. Put it on your body.

I like and applaud that approach, but it’s still not addressing the real problem, which is: people want to feel unself-conscious in a bathing suit (bikini or no). They want to feel that they will not be judged.

Here’s the thing.

Everybody gets judged in a bathing suit.

You get judged for being too heavy. Too skinny. Too old for the style you’re wearing. For being so lame as to wear whatever the hot style is right now. For not having style, period.

People will judge if you’re wearing a bathing suit clearly meant to hide as much of your body as possibly. They’ll also judge you if they suspect that you’re actually proud of your body, and accuse you of trying to flaunt it.

Here’s my one step program to get you bikini ready by Memorial Day:

Stop caring what other people think. Your body is none of their damn business.

The truth is, the vast majority of people will not judge. They’re too busy posturing for other people, or playing with their kids, or enjoying the sunshine, or worrying about how they look in their own bathing suits.

Some will think snide things, sure. But much like how your body is none of their business, the kneejerk reactions that occur in their brains are really none of yours.

Let it go.

Very rarely, some jerk might actually go so far as to voice that kneejerk thought out loud. This is a reflection on them and their poor manners, not on you, and here’s what I want it to mean to you. I want you to hear it and think, wow. Your opinion means jack to me. I don’t even know you, dude.

I want you to laugh delightedly. And I want you to say, THANK YOU, with a slight lilt of surprise, as if they had just complimented a new haircut that you secretly love or a pair of awesome shoes that make you walk the goddess walk.

Because they have just driven home to you the reminder that your opinion of your body is what matters.

Then turn and walk away and go on with your life. Let it go.

Practice it in a mirror. Imagine it in your mind. (Actually getting to use it is like the best feeling ever. I’ve been there.)

It leaves the ill-mannered buffoon in question confused, feeling as if they’ve said something wrong (which clearly, they have).

VERY rarely, you’ll get a guy who pulls it together in time and manages to hurl a followup at your back. Throw him a smile over your shoulder, if you feel like it. All he’s done is let everyone else within earshot know what an ass he is and what a poor job his parents did raising him.

Worrying about how others perceive your personal appearance gives them power over you they do not deserve. That they have not earned.

(Worrying about your health is a different story. That’s between you and you, and you know it.)

So go ahead and rock that bathing suit. Or don’t; that’s fine too. Again, the bathing suit is just something we’re marketed; unless you’re planning to go for an epic swim for time, something else would work just as well. Wear a sundress, if you really want. Whatever makes you feel comfortable and good. Whatever won’t get in your way so you can have a good time. Wear it with confidence and a smile, the best accessories a girl can have. (Fun shoes are nice too though.)

It might take some practice, getting used to the idea that your perception of your own beauty is what matters. Luckily, you’ve got four weeks to get it down pat.

Don’t measure your worth, your happiness, your attractiveness, your confidence, your self-discipline, your anything by how you look in a two-piece. Seriously, when you stop to think about it, how dumb is that anyway? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

And for god’s sake stop clicking on bikini-ready ab workouts and buying magazines that scream “Lose 10 pounds by Memorial Day.”

Stop feeding the marketing machine and maybe we won’t have to go through this nonsense next year.

Maybe, if they never see us worrying about it, our daughters won’t have to go through it at all.


Pool ready



read more

She Said I had Fat Legs.

  If I speak of myself in different ways, that is because I look at myself in different ways.

― Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays


I talked my local blogger friend Kelly aka The Turnip Farmer into buying a Groupon for 10 RivFit classes at the CrossFit box in town with me. This class claims to be perfect for the “non-athlete or beginner athlete” which I am calling BULLSH*T on, but that’s a post for another day (probably tomorrow).

Because I do plan to write about those classes, I’ve been having Kelly snap a quick photo afterwards. I was posting this one to Instagram and explaining the class to my 8yo daughter Cassidy.

I said, “After I’m done the 10 classes my arms are gonna be RIPPED from all the burpees and pushups.”

Cass said, “Yeah.


But you’ve still got fat legs.”



Context. See, I lost a goodly amount of weight last year. The scale has crept back up a bit since, but I’m also a lot stronger. I’ve got a layer of fat hanging about, and it’s more obvious I think because of the muscle developing underneath (this is especially true of my abs).

I know full well I’m not fat, or heavy, or even particularly big-boned, although I have man shoulders. But when she said that all I could hear was my mother gleefully noticing after I had Jacob that my legs sure were getting THICK. My husband noting I’m looking a little softer in my bathing suit than I did last year, and BTW did I really only go work out once last week?

Those words all rolled off like water down a duck’s back, but to hear them from my daughter?

Stung. Cut to the bone.

Partially because in truth I’ve had to acknowledge that photos taken of me lately from one angle…




or another…


 have made me look a bit chunkier than photos taken from other angles.


with my favorite person on the internet,
Melanie of Blogging Basics 101.

same outfit. SAME DAY.



Same shorts as in the RivFit photo… basically the same top, different color.


So this is the swirling mess that’s going on in my head after she told me I had fat legs.

I do look fat.

I don’t look fat.

And then I realized that this is NOT ABOUT ME and my lingering insecurities.

This is a teaching moment FOR HER. She’s EIGHT, why is she pointing out my fat legs?

And I swatted her lightly on the butt and said, “Well, some of us aren’t eight anymore. These legs can carry a horse.”

(NOTE: I can’t really carry a horse. Not even a little one. But I wanted her to be impressed.)

She was not impressed. “My legs are all muscle.”

It’s true, the kid is a string bean. Compared to hers my legs are redwood trees.

I said yeah. You play a lot of soccer and swim a lot. You’re fast. You’re all muscle.

And then I walked away.

I’m carrying a bit more chunk than I used to. At some angles photos are unflattering.

So what?

My daughter called me fat and I didn’t visually react to the word. I didn’t whine “I’m not fat!” as if carrying a few extra pounds or having field hockey thighs was the end of the world. I didn’t parry with calling her skinny— god, I would be really upset with myself if I had.

I mentioned my strength. I complimented her speed.

And I’m really freaking proud of that, more than any well-framed photo or number on a scale. Because the cultural reaction to the notion of fat is so ingrained that I almost fell for it even though I know full well my weight is fine and I don’t care all that much about it anyway.

And now I’m hyper aware of the need to watch how I phrase things, because they’re always listening and watching, aren’t they? 15 years later and my mother’s voice still cackles in my ear.

We can complain all we want about how the media and the fashion industry warps girls’ body image (and we should) but at the end of the day, my daughter sees what I do and hears what I say. She takes her cues from me.

And when people compliment me, I tend to hem and haw about how I still have a few pounds to lose. I pshaw and point out any little thing that’s wrong with me.

It doesn’t matter how proud I am of the pushups and pullups I can do, how much I emphasize STRONG for the sake of being STRONG and SMART for the sake of being SMART, how much I preach not being caught up in appearances, if I also indulge in a kneejerk reaction the second someone calls me out on mine.

The wrong thing said could have undone a lot of the work I’ve done telling my daughter that she’s beautiful no matter what, that how you look is unimportant compared to who you are, and that what other people think of your appearance is really none of your business.

I guess I need to do a little more work teaching it to myself.



I know some people will think I should have said something more along the lines of, you shouldn’t call people fat. You’ll hurt their feelings. I thought about that, and I think it gives the word more power. Then if she’s mad at someone, she wants to insult them, she calls them fat. Right? That’s how mean girls operate.

She wasn’t trying to be mean; she was making an observation. She’s eight. My reaction would have shaped her idea of what fat means. Of how she should feel about it.

That’s how these things start. I’m looking for ways to break that cycle.

Anyway. Just when I thought it was getting easier…

I remember parenting is hard.


Learned any hard parenting lessons lately?





read more