Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summer Solstice & the Swimsuit

"Summer afternoon--summer afternoon; to me those have always been 
two of the most beautiful words in the English language." --Henry James.

Yes, Mr. James. Just yes. 
{Good Summer.}
{Photo credit: My Spouse.}

Today is the first official day of Summer. The Summer Solstice. Listen. We have been on unofficial summer mode for a good 5 weeks. Judge not. We love us some summer time over here.
<Singing Kenny Chesney's "Sweet Summertime">

Summer means water: beach, pool, lake, a river, water park, water hose, watermelon- whatever. It gets hotter than a billy goat in a pepper patch in a good bit of this country, so it's a good idea to have a means of cooling off if you are going to be outside for 42 seconds.
<Singing Brad Paisley's "Water">

If you are a summer-loving person, this undoubtedly also means Swimsuit Season. 
Eek! Swimsuit Season.
Two words that cause a lot of women and dads and preachers to develop dyspepsia. 

Recently, the former White Power Ranger, Jessica Rey, gave a talk on the "Evolution of the Bikini". She is now an entrepreneur and modest swimsuit designer asking the question, "Who Says It Has To Be Itsy Bitsy?" This video has been sent to me several times this week, likely because I have mentioned on occasion how we are at war in the fight for purity for our kids and ourselves. We are. 

She is articulate and adorbies and God-honoring and worth your time.
Spot on.

Then, I've got this little article about embracing bikini season and our imperfect bodies floating around in my head, too. So, I'm struggling. And, this makes sense cause I'm a girl. A girl who is also at war with her thighs.

Do you see my plight here? Fighting thigh spread and purity and a man's prefrontal cortex!? On the same poolside?! {Thigh spread: Sit down, thighs spread. Stand up, they don't.}

Dang. So I figured I'd just give you a few of my personal momisms and girlisms and my best internal hypocrisies about the dreadful/beloved swimsuits. This little list might just give you whiplash, so brace yourself. I doubt I'll take the time to organize it, or it would never get published.
  • You need to know: I'm so schizophrenic about this. My views have changed over the years and are directly related, I'm sure, to my own insecurities. Meaning, I've absolutely spoken out against the appropriateness of the bikini when really I was just bitter that my body would have been inappropriate in a bikini. Legalism and insecurity usually hold hands.
  • Power Ranger Jessica is on point with that science of the prefrontal cortex. We have to know this. This isn't about men being creepers or pervs or anything other than XY chromosomes with good vision.
  • If I believe that, and I believe that as a Christian and a wife and a friend, I have a responsibility in how I treat another person's brain function, this would require action on my part. (Comma much?)
  • This isn't solely about a bikini to me. This is about the heart. What is the intention with the bikini? What is the intention with the skirt, the shorts, the jeans? This changes how we carry ourselves in any given situation. 
  • I have seen with my own eyes a young girl conduct herself quite sensually wearing a very modest, youth minister-approved covered one-piece swimsuit. I have also seen a young lady (and been) in a bikini and conduct herself (myself) with respect. Again, it's a heart issue. I know you have similar stories.
  • Switching gears: I like to get a tan. Period. This is not a secret. Of course, a two-piece bathing suit helps in this situation. That said, even in my most fit seasons, when I have worn a bikini, I have NEVER felt comfortable in it. Never. Could this be because I wouldn't feel comfortable running around in public in my underclothes? Ughhhh!!
  • This is just another situation in which we need to just be intentional. Be intentional. Think about the company you'll be in, the activities you'll be doing. One piece bathing suits at the water parks, Kids. If a group of girls are going to be at the pool tanning and just laying around and all your parts are covered, I don't really have a problem with a bikini. If you are going with a coed group to play volleyball and whatnot, perhaps a tankini or one-piece would be best. Are y'all tracking with me here?
  • I would love to not draw hard lines here, but let me just say there are some of your parts that ALWAYS need to be covered up. Always. For instance: 
    • Breasts. All of them. The whole things. Cleavage and all, bikini or not. 
    • The crack of your rear end. This low biz is deeesgusting. There is a reason you can't see your own rear end. No one else needs to see that junk either. 
    • With all sensitivity and directness, let me include the "spare tire", "back cleavage", the...um... striae. Listen. I'm not judging the cellulite or the stretch marks (except my own!). If having babies means stretch marks for you, well, babies rule so Stretch, Skin, Stretch! Just have a little self respect and save the bikini for uber-private situations and rock the tankini otherwise. 
    • Be sensible, People. We don't have perfect bodies, I know, but just do the best you can with what you've got. We all need to be thankful for our bodies and do the best we can with it. 
  • We need to come to happy place with our bodies. Being in a place of satisfaction with our appearance doesn't mean we have to "flaunt it if you got it". At the end of the day, I don't want to be remembered for how good or bad I look in a bathing suit. I want to be remembered for the evidence of Jesus in me. 
I don't really see us all coming to agreement on every little point here, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. I'd really love to hear the male perspective.

7 comments:

  1. Here's a male perspective for you: Robert Grainger says and I quote, "A real man wants a real lady and isn't interested in a woman who would go 90% naked in public, because if she does, she isn't a real lady." Not overly eloquent, but pretty much to the point! I'm feeling pretty good, cause he's a real man :) And as far as my opinion? Ditto everything you said! Especially the part about intention. What's the real reason you want to parade around nearly naked in public?

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    1. I love a quote on my blog from Robert Grainger!! Thank you!!

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  2. I am Thankful at 33 years old that the Lord hid me from the opportunity to flaunt it if I had it. When I was a preteen/teenager it pained me greatly that I didn't have a very teenage body type. I developed a womanly shape early and it took me until my early 20's to feel even the slightest bit comfortable in my own skin. Back then I thought I was being punished, now I see I was being protected! If the Lord had left me to my on devices... well I am scared to think it. You are dead on about the sensuality though. I have seen very well meaning, God fearing, husband loving women in a two piece and I have seen very provocative, sensational women in a one piece. It seems like we have lost any sort of guideline not only in how we dress but how we represent ourselves and our creator. My brother in law has said many times, however not in this context, "What one generation tolerates, the next will accept, what that generation accepts, the next will embrace". Where does it end? Who draws the line? We must intentionally push the pendulum back the other way for our children's children sake!

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    1. I had a friend tell me one time, "The Lord won't let me be skinny. He knows I'll dress swanky!" I am not even kidding!! Blessssss.

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  3. Love. This. With an eight-year-old little girl who just had to swimsuit shop for a modest swimsuit for camp, this is top of the mind. I love how you pointed out that it's the intentions and a heart issue and to look at each situation.

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    1. Thank you! Isn't that it, though? The heart of the matter? A friend mentioned Bethany Hamilton; she's always in a bikini and doesn't appear to be flirtatious or immodest in her heart. Always something to ponder... :)

      I hope you stick around!

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