The things that freak me out when I think about myself in a bikini

(I’m not sure how many times I will have to write about bikinis before I am done. It might be a hundred. It might be more. For that, I’m sorry in advance.)

I don’t want to write about bikinis. I want to write about the amazing blue cheese dressing I made (with buttermilk! For some reason, I think buttermilk is the coolest thing ever), and the pizza I found myself absentmindedly dipping in it until I’d eaten a whole piece like that.

I want to write about little victories and subtle triumphs. But there’s a bikini in the back of my mind, its strings tangling in my thoughts, its sliver of a bottom giving my brain a wedgie.

The thing is, I keep lying. Because I’m embarrassed.

The thing is, in the middle of June, Bear and I are going on a trip with my family. My parents won the trip, to a beautiful house in the Virgin Islands, in a synagogue raffle.  My brothers and their girlfriends are coming, too. I can’t wait. I am imagining the ocean and that sudden sense of eternity that engulfs you when you look at it. You have to look away, because it’s too big.

Also, I will be wearing a bikini, I’m assuming. Since I have never found a one-piece that was a match for my long torso. Since I am young and sexy and perfectly capable of wearing a bikini.

I  hope.

(it’s waiting...)

I haven’t worn one in a long time. I pretend to myself that that’s the real issue here. The elapsed time. I’m just uncomfortable because it’s been a while. But that’s not the whole truth. I haven’t worn a bikini since I gained weight. Since I gained enough weight to bring me above my heaviest ever weight.

 

I promise, I am not obsessed. I am not that superficial. I am thinking about all of the things that people are supposed to actually think about. I am working, and cooking dinner, and agonizing about my career, and waiting for this site to get back to me about paying me more than this incredibly tiny sum of money that makes me feel like I’m a college student working a summer job, and wondering if I’m doing the right things, and feeling relieved that I’m not in grad school anymore, and hoping there’s still some strawberry ice cream in the freezer, and wondering how we run through paper napkins SO fast, and imagining myself as a really great mother, and imagining myself immediately losing all of my friends and most of my mind as soon as I have a baby, and worrying about Bear’s blood sugar, and feeling rejected by the last publication that rejected me, and thinking about how life is actually absurdly short and then I will die and death is the most unbelievable thing in the world, even though it’s so ordinary. And during all of this, there’s this very small, very distant fragment of my brain that has been assigned the sole task of worrying about wearing a bikini. That’s all it does. It just sits there worrying about bikinis.

Here are its major concerns:

My pubic hair (what to do with it? Why don’t I know this yet? Shaving leaves all these little red bumps, and I want to scratch them. I have never gotten waxed and I’m scared at the thought and also slightly opposed to it for reasons I could explain but don’t want to right this second but have something to do with lying on a table with my vagina exposed to a stranger who is about to rip parts of it off)

My belly, of course (it sticks out)

Potentially my butt (it sticks out a lot and a bikini bottom is no match for it)

Definitely my thighs (they are jiggly)

Also my arms (yes, this is weird. But when I start to think this way about things, I think about how my arms look big compared to my breasts, which look small, especially without the support and padding that all of my bras so generously come with)

Which brings me to my breasts (can they hold their own? The arms are so nearby…)

Actually, when you get right down to it, I think it’s possible that I have worried about my nose in a bikini. Do I have the right face for it? (Lesser concerns also involve the length of my legs, potential positions I can lie in on the beach that might make my breasts do that weird thing that doesn’t actually count as cleavage but looks like a tragically lopsided desperate attempt at it.)

What the hell?

This is a mess.  What is the deal with bikinis?

(source)

Well, for one, they’re almost like not wearing anything at all, except you’re doing it in front of other people. And for two—actually, I think that was the main thing. It’s the almost-naked thing in front of the other people thing. That’s the big one.

It is so hard to be the way I actually look, exposed, in front of other people.

Which is a little disheartening. After all, I thought I was getting good at accepting my body, belly, thighs, nose, arms, and all. But bikini brain is making me wonder if maybe I’ve only just become more comfortable covering my belly with reassuringly protective cloth. If maybe I am not so far along after all. If there is a long, bikini-scattered road ahead of me.

Changing in front of a friend, I turn surreptitiously, shielding my belly, fighting the urge to glance down at my squishy thighs, to see how bad it all is in this moment.

Damn it. There is nothing wrong with the way I look. So why am I hiding? I have written so many words about not hiding. I cut off all my hair to stop myself from trying to hide. So what is the deal?

The deal, I guess, is that self-acceptance and confidence are not a ladder with total self-love at  the top. They are not a straight path with a palace full of chocolate and mirrors and pure joy at the end. They are not deciding to feel better about your belly and then throwing on a bikini a couple months later, in June, in the Virgin Islands, and running down the beach, legs flying, pubic hair flowing in the wind, arm fat bouncing happily, as you yell, “I am me! I am me! I am MEEE!”

Or maybe they are, but only after several strong mojitos.

And since I am a baby and can never get through more than one, I think I  have to admit that it might not be so simple.

I won’t lie about this. I am not finished. I am not at the end of a journey. I’m wading around in the mud somewhere off the path. I am slogging forward. Sometimes I stop to play. Sometimes I am just lost.

Some days I feel like a bombshell. Some days I am just fine. Some days I think I understand myself better. Many days, I don’t give any of it a second thought. And some days, I am nervous about being exposed. Maybe I was fooling everyone. Maybe they thought I was thinner. Maybe they thought I was hotter. Maybe they were imagining that I was toned. Maybe I was imagining myself that way.

It’s true, I’m not confident about my body in a bikini, in front of my family and my brothers’ slender college girlfriends and whoever else happens to be on the beach that day. But I am confident enough to admit that I’m not there yet. Not to hide behind my embarrassment. I am confident enough to realize that the problem is my worrying, and not my belly. I am confident enough now, after writing so many words about beauty and self-acceptance, to address my own fear, no matter how silly it may seem.

And maybe it isn’t so silly. After all, whole industries subsist—thrive– on women’s fear of weighing too much in a bikini.

As for the pubic hair, I still have no idea. Maybe I’ll just keep my legs really close together? I mean probably no one will even notice unless they’re really looking, right?

*  *  *

Who has mastered the bikini? Do tell!

Unroast: Today I love my bright green nails. They remind me of shiny plastic, and for some reason that makes me happy. Maybe because my mom didn’t let us have plastic toys for a while, when we were really little, before she had to inevitably give in?

P.S. The amazing giveaway contest for anything you want from eShakti, the fabulous clothing site, is still going! Enter here

P.P.S. This post feels sort of ironic after the last one. Figures. That’s my brain for ya

83 Comments »

Kate on May 25th 2012 in beauty, body, weight

83 Responses to “The things that freak me out when I think about myself in a bikini”

  1. Melanie responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    I wear board shorts and a tank top. I love myself, but not even enough to get in an old ’50s one piece, let alone a bikini.

    As for the pubic hair, I wax regularly, but I got referred by my good friend who does my brows. I was immediately comfortable with the esthetician who does it. She’s great and makes it as pleasant an experience as it can be, when you’re having the hair ripped out of your hooha area. I am Greek, so shaving isn’t even an option, and I have a really obsessive thing about hair removal.

    About all the other stuff: try a few bikinis on and if you aren’t comfortable try something else. There are so many swimsuit options out there I’m sure you can find one suitable. There are tankinis if your belly makes you uncomfortable, there are really cute longer one pieces, and the totally awesome retro suits too. You’ll find one you feel good in, it just might take a little effort.

  2. Kate responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    @Melanie
    Yeah, you’re right. There are other options. But I almost feel like it’s giving up not to learn to rock a bikini. Because, probably, I can. And anyway, bathing attire is just awkward by its nature. It’s not like everyone else is feeling so totally comfortable :-)

    How painful is this waxing that you get? On a scale of 1-10? :p

  3. lik_11 responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:21 pm #

    Super jealous of your trip to the Virgin Islands!!!

    Since I haven’t worn a bikini since the age of 5 (literally), I have no advice about that acceptance. What I do know is I have a long torso- and the tankini is my friend.
    Swimming suits aren’t actually about how you look in them- they’re about the confidence you exude while wearing them. You need to wear something you’re comfortable in- whatever that may be. You have to be able to enjoy yourself.

    About the pubic hair- Nair on your bikini line???

  4. Kimmy Sue Ruby Lou responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    Bikini brain…love that, funny! The imagery is fabulous in this post, thanks for a snort and a giggle on an otherwise very boring workday…I mastered the bikini a few times in my 20′s, but admittedly would have these same thoughts, even now, even being older and more comfortable with myself. As for arms, girrrrllll…don’t get me started…wait until they start waving underneath and a strong wind will have you sailing instead of walking, on days when you dare to wear a tank top at 48…LOL…have fun, wear the crazy bikini with the teeth, that is awesome…and post photos please!

  5. Kimmy Sue Ruby Lou responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:23 pm #

    Ohhhh…almost forgot…you can let Bear do the wax job for you :) I’m sure he won’t mind.

  6. T.K. responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    Kate,

    How about getting a tankiny? or a bikini with a little skirt? or one of those vintage looking bikinis that go up to the belly button? I am not implying that YOU need to cover up your body because it is somehow flawed. Heck, even at your heaviest weight, your body is still wayyyy up there, if we are just being objective and realistic about what the average female body looks like. But that is totally not the point because I agree with you that wearing almost nothing in front of total strangers IS weird. I mean, you would feel weird walking around in your bra and underwear and bikinis cover even less. Even if you have the world’s most perfect body ( whatever that means), it’s still weird, and would still leave one feeling vulnerable, especially if you didn’t grow up in a beach culture where being half naked 300 days of the year is the norm. So i think a little bit of a cover up, like a cute sarong or beach shorts is great because I am not sure who decided that we have to be nearly naked on the beach and who decided that we need to expose all of our parts and our hoo-haa’s borders to all passerby and to evil sun rays :)

  7. Kate responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    @lik_11
    I know, my whole family is dying of excitement! And the girlfriends of my brothers, who sort of can’t believe their luck. This is the first time we’ve all taken a trip together, as adults.

    And I have never tried nair, and didn’t even think of it. I think I will!

    (Why am I so clueless about these things?)

  8. Kate responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    @Kimmy Sue
    HA! I SHOULD get that bikini! If I do, I promise I’ll share photos.
    LOL about the arms. I know I’ll get there one day. By then I intend to feel even better about myself, though :-)
    And Bear is definitely going to see your second comment and write me a little joke about it

  9. Kate responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:28 pm #

    @T.K.
    Nothing wrong with a sarong! Maybe my bikini fears are exaggerated? What do you wear on the beach?

  10. Amanda responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:29 pm #

    Just wear the damn bikini. Trust me, in 10 years you will look back at pictures and realize you were hot and it was stupid to worry about it. I’ve actually got a belly and jiggly thighs (I mean a _belly_ not just a kind of soft area) and this year I just said f*@$ it and started wearing a bikini. And you know what, no one has a problem with it. And if they do, they aren’t going to tell me. And anyway, it’s their problem, not mine.

    Also, I know you are working so hard on accepting your body, but you have really got to stop calling it soft and jiggly. You do realize you are slender, right? And that’s why I say you will look back at pictures of yourself and wish you had just owned it. I look at myself in pictures from high school, when I thought my belly was embarrassing, and I laugh, because I’d love to look like that now.

    Also, I second the nair. I have a terrible time with shaving and waxing too, but nair pretty much works. It just stinks.

  11. Melanie responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    @Kate,
    I have a ridiculously high pain tolerance. I have a shit ton of tattoos and getting them doesn’t bother me so I’m probably not a great one to ask. Also, the conversation with my esthetician is so fun it goes by really fast. I’d say it’s about a 5.

    The key is to finding someone you like, and are comfortable with to do it. That makes all the difference.

  12. Rebecca - we are large people responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    Modcloth.com has some amazing retro bikinis that have a little more coverage for jiggly bits, if you are interested:

    http://www.modcloth.com/shop/twopiece-swimwear

  13. Jess responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    I wore a bikini for the first time ever (literally) last summer. I was 32. I was most definitely not the slimmest, least jiggly, or hottest I’ve ever been. But somehow, I just managed to own this feeling of ‘this is my body, it is a wonderful thing, I am grateful for it and love it, and this is how it looks.’ After all, I am a woman. My belly is supposed to be soft. I am past the age of puberty, thank god, so I do have pubic hair. It’s all good. I hope I still feel this way when I try on my bikini for the first time this year (I am heavier, slightly, than last summer; and my youngest is two, now, not one), but I feel optimistic.
    Also, that living dead bikini? Believe me, no one who gives you a glance is going to notice anything other than the fabulousness of the biniki itself, and hence of the girl wearing it.

  14. T.K. responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    Also, if you’re going to go the hair removal route I suggest laser over waxing. It needs to be done like 6 times with a month or so apart so it won’t help you for this vacation, but at least you won’t have to worry about it for next time. It’s much less painful than waxing, in my opionion, and it’s very fast, and you can leave your panties on.They always have those super cheap groupon deals that you can take advantage off.

  15. Kate responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    @Amanda
    First of all, I love your bikini attitude.

    Second of all, I promise, things jiggle on my body. I know, I’m right here watching them. I could show you, if you were here, too :-)
    But I don’t think “soft” and “jiggly” have to be bad words. I want them to be good words for me. The truth is, I LIKE my softness. I’m just a little scared to show it off.

    And I’m sure I’ll look back, as people always do, and say, “GOD. YOU WERE RIDICULOUS ABOUT THAT. Now look at me! I’ve got that times a million!” But that is never going to stop me from trying to figure out things right now, in the present day :-)

  16. Mary responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    Bikini with boyshorts. Absolutely. Eliminates both the pubic hair problem and (for me) the fact that I would rather face rabid bears than walk around showing the area where my thighs meet my butt. That, for me, is a Naked Area; i.e., if it’s showing, I’m naked.

    That said, I haven’t owned a swimming suit of any kind for five years, despite the fact that I live two blocks from the beach, and every summer I promise myself that I will buy one this year, and who cares that my thighs are vaster than empires and bone-white? Maybe this year I’ll actually do it.

  17. Loren responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    I am a person who is somewhat overly confident about my completely average body, and bikini’s still make me uncomfortable.
    I have this tip (it helps me some) the first time I buy any new piece of clothing that makes me uncomfortable I like to wear it around the house a few times doing house chores. To get used to the way it feels and how my reflection looks. Then I’ll wear it out on a ‘practice run’ to the grocery store, or the park, or my back yard for some sun bathing. It’s how I learned to walk in heels, and be ok with any amount of cleavage showing.
    Try taking your bikini out for some sunbathing. I’m sure you’ll look mega hot with your shaved head. :)

  18. Kate responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    @Melanie
    I love that you are talking with the person doing the waxing. Reminds me of being at the gynecologist. I always think those conversations are funny

  19. Kate responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    @Mary
    Love that

  20. Kate responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    @Jess
    Loved this: “I am past the age of puberty, thank god, so I do have pubic hair.”

  21. Sarah responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    Last summer, I splurged on a bikini from Anthropologie. The bottoms have a highwaist and the top is strapless. Along with my super sexy deep-v one-piece, it is the most flattering suit I’ve ever owned. I think the key to rocking a bikini is finding one that you feel sexy in and just going with it. And sometimes I think that’s worth a splurge.

    I think you will look great in anything though. Duh.

  22. Frankie responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    I’d love to know if any of your commenters have actually used nair on their bikini lines, because if it’s safe I’m totally doing it. I hate shaving my bikini line- it hurts and it grows back right away. I would love to wax it, but that’s scary and embarrassing and painful. Truth: I bought an at-home waxing kit and tried to wax it myself. I managed to yank off one strip of hair and that was THE END OF THAT. I wonder if it’s not as hard when others do it for you- except it’s probably infinitely more embarassings. Sigh…

    My other main issue with bikinis is my boobs. They are cartoon-like big and I feel like everyone’s staring at them when I wear a bikini. It makes me really umcomfortable. Especially the creepy old men. I just bought three new bikini tops from JCrew in hopes that they might minimize them. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

    But yeah, self-esteem and body confidance is definitely a swirvy road, with a pit stop or two, and not a ladder. I think it’s like that for everyone.

  23. Caroline responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    I have a bikini with a little skirt, solely for the pubic hair coverage it provides. However, if i want to get sexier, i go for the wax. As long as you’re just getting the bikini line done, it’s not worse than getting your lip waxed. And when i’ve had it done, they give you a little disposable pair of “panties” to wear so that only the hair that’s being waxed is exposed. No vaginal display necessary. I can’t shave because of the bumps problem, and Nair never worked for me (also it’s super toxic), but i love the way a wax looks and feels once it’s done. It also lasts a pretty long time. For me the pain was negligible. Just go to somebody who knows what they’re doing! Do NOT let your inexperienced sweetie do it! Potentially sexy idea, but almost certainly would end in tears.

    (Brazilians are a different story. I got one recently because the curiosity was killing me. Never. Again. Ever.)

  24. Kate responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    @Caroline
    So helpful! I continue to feel like a child for not knowing this stuff, but more like a child who is glad she asked.

  25. Rachel responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:50 pm #

    Have you seen this? It’s a lovely gallery of larger women rocking out in bikinis.

    http://www.xojane.com/fun/gallery/fatkini

    Personally, I’m in denial about this issue. I need a new bathing suit soon, though. I may just see what happens if I declare that “all beaches are nude beaches!” ;)

  26. katilda responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:53 pm #

    oh the pubic hair. i splurged on the laser option and, let me say, i am thoroughly pleased. but that aside….swimsuits! who invented these things! my long torso is also never pleased with one-pieces, and my chest is too flat to ever, ever function correctly in a bikini. unless they start selling inverted bikini tops. yeah. ANYWAY…tankinis. i love the tankini. it makes me feel more secure. i went to my first swim party of the summer last night and i still hated that moment when i first peeled off my shorts and tank top to reveal my suit. i mean….it’s like socializing can be hard enough anyway….and i have to do it like 80% naked? SHEESH!

  27. Kate responded on 25 May 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    @Rachel
    Thanks for this link! OF COURSE XoJane is all over this… :-)

  28. Gaby responded on 25 May 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    Ok I admit I am absolutely self concious in a bikini, BUT you know what’s awesome? Going to European beaches and seeing everyone no matter what size, age, level of fat or wrinkliness or leatheryness, baring it all. I mean, you have your 60 year old women with boobs hanging at their waists going topless in thongs, fat guys in speedos, younger women topless and wading right into the water and they chat it up with 20 of their closest friends, skeleton figures smoking cigarettes, Italians who match their brown leather bags, etc. I’ve actually gone topless in France. It feels weird but no one notices you at all.
    As for the pubic hair, I do actually own some boy short bikini bottoms that I love, but I also went for the laser option for both bikini and legs because I get REALLY bad bumps and they get infected and it’s gross. Best decision ever.
    And the modcloth swimsuits are adorable. I do have a one peice that’s like a 50′s navy blue simple with a little skirt. It seems weird because I think as 25 year olds were expected to be in tiny stringy things, but the 50′s style is totally coming back and they had adorable swimsuits!

  29. poet responded on 25 May 2012 at 2:05 pm #

    Ah, the bikini anxiety, I absolutely sympathize! A friend of mine wears a bikini bottom that looks like shorts and reports it feels great & looks cute. I sometimes prefer to wear a one-piece bathing suit because it feels more practical and secure, even though I supposedly have a good bikini figure. You could buy a bathing suit in a larger size to fit your long torso and then take it in, maybe? I think you should wear whatever makes you comfortable, and if that means a beach dress cover-up thingy except when you’re swimming, go for it! (I usually wear a huge sweater when I’m at the beach and not in the water, but that’s because most of my beach vacations were at the North Sea or Baltic Sea… where it’s cold and windy even in the summer! Also, weird observation: Being naked – for example in the sauna – feels less self-conscious than walking around in a bikini. What’s up with that?!)

  30. Womanatics responded on 25 May 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    What fun it would be to visit Virgin Islands..And I cant comment on this post as I have never worn a bikini myself. I come from a traditional Indian family and we (most of the Indians for that matter) dont wear bikinis. Its too vulgar for our culture.

    I live on an Island.. I thought or rather was tempted to wear it coupla times initially but hesitated. Now that hesitation has gone.. I cant as I have several pounds ready to peep out if I even dare to put a bikini on!

  31. Also Kate responded on 25 May 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    I decided at around age 14 that I was too hideous to ever wear a bikini, and assumed I would never in my life actually wear one. Thankfully, many decisions made (even sincerely) when 14 are totally reversible!

    I bought my first adult bikini 2 years ago (had a tankini once when I was 12 but it had boy shorts and covered most of my stomach and I was STILL constantly worried about how I looked in it). And honestly, I would rather be naked in public than bikini-d. People judge you so differently when everyone’s naked v. wearing small amounts of fabric. HOWEVER, when I wear a one-piece, it feels like a cop-out. Not because there’s anything wrong with a one-piece (some people rock them) but because I don’t like the feeling of wearing one, and they never fit my boobs or my butt correctly, and my torso is sort of long-ish, and at the end of the day, I’m more comfortable (alone, with my eyes closed) in a bikini.

    (Ok, this is getting long. I don’t normally expound this much upon the merits of bipartite swimwear!)

    Anyway, it’s a struggle for most of us, is what I’m saying. The fashion industry has taught us that only a very certain, airbrushed, type of body is “allowed” to wear bikinis in public, which is total bullshit.

    Also, I’ve never had my bikini line waxed because I don’t really know… how to go about doing that, you know? I’m sure I could walk in somewhere and make an appointment, but I would want to find someone I trust and even THEN I don’t like the idea of spending money to let someone rip hair out that isn’t offending ME. And shaving inevitably leads to painful rashes. So at the moment, when I go to the beach I just hope no one’s looking at my pubic hair. Glad to know I’m not alone. :)

  32. Myth responded on 25 May 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    “I am confident enough to realize that the problem is my worrying, and not my belly.”

    Right on!

    “But I almost feel like it’s giving up not to learn to rock a bikini.”

    You can totally learn to rock a bikini, but you don’t have to do it Right Now. You can do it when you’re ready for it.

    I love my body (especially naked) but I hate the way it looks when the edges of clothing dig into it. It’s really hard to find a bikini I’d want to wear even when I’m happy with my body. Being in a better body won’t change that! Also, being around my in-laws in a bikini…No Thank You. I go for something with more coverage around family.

  33. Lilli responded on 25 May 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    Kate, i always have problems with bikinis due to my big thighs and little boobs, but i recently found a bikini top which is plunge cut and with a bit of shaping-padding which holds my breasts in just the right place that they look like i actually have cleavage, it’s my miracle bikini and it’s honestly cured (mostly) my bikini woes :)
    As for pubic hair, i’ve tried hair removal creams, which give me a rash, and shaving, which gives me a rash but less so… I understand your worry about waxing though, it’s pretty much the same one I have, and living in a small community, i would inevitably end up meeting that waxer, which worries me. If you ever do get waxed though, please let us know what you think :) x

  34. Pam responded on 25 May 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    Girl, IXNAY on the Nair! I had an old coworker who did that once and she couldn’t come to work all weekend. When she finally came back, she was limping around! She said Nair can burn sensitive skin, so I can only imagine.
    I have a list of 30 things I want to do by the time I was 30, and one was to get a wax. So I did. A few times. While embarrassing (and painful!), it wasn’t as brutal as I thought. I’m more shy than anyone I’ve ever known! I cried and whimpered and carried on the whole time, but estheticians are used to it.
    As for the bathing suit dilemma, I hear that. I get separates, so one is a skirt and the other is a tank. It’s still so TIGHT. Material all up on my skin like that makes me even more self-conscious. But get a wax, some self-tanner, and I promise you won’t think you look as bad as you feel. We’re our own worst critics :(

  35. Chris responded on 25 May 2012 at 2:49 pm #

    Check out the fatkini slideshow on xojane.com. Now those women have some courage!

  36. Jess responded on 25 May 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    The pubes are entirely up to the cut of your bathing suit. With a low leg, its probably not an issue at all. Higher, and you need to decide.

    I also get awful shaving mishaps so the two options I suggest to you are 1) get a clipper (I use my gentleman’s) and trim it down to stubble– there is no irritation and its enough visual bareness that nobody will look at your crotch (because short of curly distraction, why are they looking at your crotch anyway??) or 2) get a regular bikini line wax. Its significantly less painful than a Brazilian (there are more nerves at the center part of your pubic region, where the bone and the interesting bits are, than in the leg crease) leaves most of your hair, and you can leave underwear on while getting it. Also, I do it because its a lot less irritation to your skin. If you want to appear hairless, it means only having to do things to your skin once a month versus every other day. In the summer, I do my underarms too because they are actually more sensitive to chafing and razor burn than my downstairs. I think because they’re sweatier.

    When I’m broke/it’s winter and someone needs to see me bikini level of naked, I clip my pits and bikini and nobody notices. When it’s summer, I wax. When it’s neither of those things, I’m proudly furry. Especially under my arms.

    Sidenote: women in Brazil? Think its totally weird to go bare or have a “landing strip”. They think removing the hair from your labia is weird and wrong, because it serves a purpose, and men in Brazil would not be attracted to it. Yay culture!

  37. Amanda2 responded on 25 May 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    Thank you so much for this post – mainly because I just bought that wickedly awesome monster/zombie binkini!

    But with bathing suit season officially beginning this weekend, I was also getting a little nervous about baring my stomach for another season. This was just the push I needed to buy a fun suit and get excited about rocking it!

  38. Sophia responded on 25 May 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    I got a bikini for the first time a couple days ago. I’m a preteen, and my mom really discouraged these, so I naturally thought that I shouldn’t wear one, but we were at a shop and I saw the nicest bikini, and I got it, and surprisingly enough, it looks good on me. After looking at it a couple times. So just keep looking at yourself in a mirror and telling yourself that it looks fine, and you’ll start to believe it. I did at least.

  39. Amy responded on 25 May 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    Kate, I am uncomfortable in a bikini as well. I just feel too exposed, I guess. My solution? Before I went on vacation last month I bought this really pretty light weight sheer tunic to wear over my bikini. It looks amazing and still feels “beachy” and glamorous at the same time. I got so many compliments on the way I looked in it!

  40. Steph responded on 25 May 2012 at 6:33 pm #

    In Arizona we have several places where they will custom make a bathing suit. Best thing ever. You get measured and talk to the stylists, look at some fabric, and answer a few questions. A hundred or so dollars and a few weeks later, you have the perfect bathing suit. It’ll last a long time, too. The trip sounds fabulous and you are not the only one with weird hair issues. I’m 40 and still haven’t waxed anything. I don’t get it but after reading the comments I may try it. It’s only hair…

  41. Sheryl responded on 25 May 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    Let’s just go to a nude beach.

    Seriously, hanging out in your nothing is waaaaay less stressful than hanging out in a bathing suit of any kind. I’m all boobs and butt … and a one piece stretches uncomfortably and squishes things down all unpleasant-like. But a bikini? My but those are hard to find. I should not have to go to fifteen stores to find something that I still only half-way like.

    It’s hard to feel like there’s something flattering going on when you’re mostly but not quite naked and on display.

  42. Isabel responded on 25 May 2012 at 9:11 pm #

    I still haven’t mastered the bikini. I always wear board shorts and a tankini top, or a monokini. Even though I could probably pull off a bikini, I have never felt comfortable enough with the idea that I only have a foot of cloth at most, covering me.

  43. Amanda responded on 25 May 2012 at 9:39 pm #

    I love boy shorts. You can’t do anything fun when you’re worried about your swim suit coming off. I am *very* stocky, and boy shorts look adorable on my square butt, and I am going to try a tankini for the top this year because I want the support in the bosoms. ‘Cause boy howdy the girls need support. I am a firm believer in comfort over fashion, because if you are comfortable then you will be beautiful because you are happy. And happiness is the biggest beautifier out there. I had a horrible experience putting Nair on my cootchie though. I cannot advise against it enough. Please just don’t do it. And please remember that you are there, wearing whatever item you decide on, for you. And not the college age girlfriends. And that baby steps are ok. It’s better to succeed at baby steps than fail at what you “Should Be Able To Do”. :)

  44. bethany actually responded on 25 May 2012 at 10:13 pm #

    I’ve never liked bikinis, even when I was young and svelte, for exactly the reason you mentioned: it’s like wearing nothing at all, in front of other people. A bikini just makes me feel too exposed. I prefer one-pieces or tankinis, with minimal cleavage. I don’t have anything against other people who wear bikinis, not at all. I just prefer to stay a little more covered up, whatever my weight or body shape.

  45. Claire Allison responded on 25 May 2012 at 10:37 pm #

    We went surfing in Tofino last summer and I was the only woman who wore a one piece. As we all tried to ply off the tight as hell wetsuits (it’s Canada after all, no way that water gets warm enough) the other women commented on how smart I’d been to wear a one piece since my briefs weren’t coming off as I tried to take off the wetsuit. It was a worth while choice.

    I pretty much refuse to do anything about pubic hair. I used to. It wasn’t worth the fuss. I also refuse to force myself to be practically naked in public. If I’m not comfortable I’m not going to have a good time. So I do the one piece, I wear shorts, sometimes throw on a t-shirt, and yes, I look like a self conscious pre-teen, but I’d rather feel like that’s the case then feel overly exposed. I don’t really understand why we all have to be okay in a bikini. I really, truly do not understand why it’s some rite of passage or body acceptance bar- there’s no reason we should have to feel okay in one. Men don’t have to agonize over whether or not to wear a speedio vs. trunks, so why should I have to agonize over one piece vs. two piece.

    I will agree with the earlier commenter who said Europe was awesome and liberating. I was nervous in Spain until I saw the grandmas with the hanging boobs, and then I just didn’t care if my hair was creeping out of my suit.

  46. StephC responded on 25 May 2012 at 11:20 pm #

    I’d wear boyshorts. I do wear boyshorts. I keep everything trim down there, but I don’t like the feeling of hairlessness, much less the societal mandate I keep it hairless. So I skirt the issue with boyshorts.

    Other than that, good luck. And if you don’t go for a bikini, it’s not like you’re conceding defeat or anything. http://gawker.com/5910114/how-to-get-that-perfect-beach-body?popular=true I like this article- just go to the beach and have fun! Who would have thought the gawker would be so useful?

  47. Deanna responded on 25 May 2012 at 11:49 pm #

    Goodness grief ladies…bikini waxes don’t really hurt much and you can get one just about anywhere. I keep saying this, but it’s important…when I was hot and 20 something it was virtually impossible to find anyone who did bikini waxes and no one ever admitted (as they do here) that they had a problem with pubic hair. I would ask friends and women I knew how they managed to wear shorts or bikinis and not have hair sticking out (ew) and they looked at me as if I were insane. I really thought I was the only woman on the planet who had a problem with this. So, for the longest time and when I was at my very best I could not wear a bikini which really pisses me off.

    So..if I were 20 today you bet I’d get waxed or have laser done since it is so available. I still to this day don’t know how anyone over the age of 45 ever was able to take care of that area. Shaving is just not an option.

  48. Erin responded on 26 May 2012 at 1:25 am #

    I use the hub’s beard trimmer to get my feminine forestry down to a manageable thicket. Then I use one of those micro-trimmer things (it’s about the size of a tube of mascara) along my bikini line. It doesn’t get things perfectly hairless, but it also doesn’t hurt or give me ingrown hairs.

    My favorite bathing suit ever had a halter tank top with a plunging neckline and a flat-front skirt on the bottom. The top was mostly backless, which upped the sexy factor, and since the skirt was flat and non-ruffly, it didn’t feel like a little girl’s suit.

    Unfortunately, I left it in a hotel room in Vegas last summer.

  49. Rapunzel responded on 26 May 2012 at 3:50 am #

    I’ve used Nair down there before. The trick is to NOT RUB IT IN. Not in the slightest, are you to rub it in. Always, ALWAYS dab it on and dab it on thick.
    I’ve had some success with Nair–as in, after trimming and using it, I still end up sort of patchy. Not horrible I guess as long as you’re not going to a nudist beach! And you might be “neater” about it than I have been.
    Dab it on, and it shouldn’t hurt or burn unless you’re really sensitive or allergic to it or something (do a skin test first!).
    I wouldn’t get a wax either. I got my underarms waxed for my wedding and that was as far as I was going with ripping hair out. I’ve tried waxing my legs before at home and I was too much of a baby for THAT…I can’t imagine subjecting my more sensitive areas to that kind of pain.
    Good luck!

  50. Jen responded on 26 May 2012 at 10:35 am #

    Oh how much I identify with this post! This summer, for the first time, I purchased a bikini. But not a Victoria Secret / Sports Illustrated bikini – it’s red with white polka dots and it’s vintage-inspired. So when I wear it , I try to channel vintage beauties like Marilyn Monroe whose body more closely resembles mine. It’s a bit of a mind trick, but I find myself looking less and less at my imperfections when I put it on. After all, my body is no less deserving of the wonderful sensations of sunshine and salt water just because it’s imperfect. Good luck!

  51. G responded on 26 May 2012 at 10:57 am #

    I have strawberry frozen yogurt in the freezer right now, bought it last night after midnight after I had a craving for it :)

    I prefer one-piece suits, I have one from the seventies that was a hand-me-down. I have a long torso and it fits me perfectly!

    I dislike being nude or partially nude in front of other people, so my issue isn’t with bikinis, necessarily, but almost any type of clothing that reveals a lot of my body. It isn’t because I dislike my body or don’t accept it, it’s my comfort level with showing that much of my body to a non-romantic partner. It’s just like physical touch for me. I’ll walk around nude and swim nude with a romantic partner, and be super physically affectionate with them, too, but, with other people, I just don’t have the desire for them to see or touch that much of me, or see or touch that much of them, for that matter.

    As far as pubic hair goes, I wax mine when I can afford it, I get it done professionally, and it’s fine. Of course, it’s painful, but it’s worth it for me. It’s really more about how you feel and what you want and what makes you happy and comfortable. I really dislike underarm hair, pubic hair, and leg hair, would consider laser hair removal if it wasn’t so expensive and somewhat risky, would have been happy if I’d never gone through puberty.

    Ooo … I like the “evilkini” :)

  52. G responded on 26 May 2012 at 11:02 am #

    @Claire: I agree with you about, “What’s the fuss?” It really doesn’t matter, doesn’t have to “set the bar for self acceptance.” Everyone one is different, and has different preferences for things. If you don’t like to show anyone and everyone as much of your body as possible, then that doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t accept your body or think it looks great!

  53. Emily responded on 26 May 2012 at 11:43 am #

    Have you ever tried the gel available at drug stores that promises to smooth out the shaving experience? It works well for me. I have super sensitive skin and thick, coarse hair, and would get terrible bumps every time I shaved. Using that gel, though, my skin is totally smooth, no bumps. The gel smells really nice, too. I would definitely not be comfortable wearing a bikini if any pubic hair was showing… that to me would be more embarrassing than going naked. Maybe it’s a body shame issue I need to work on, but I would just…. freak out.

  54. morgaine responded on 26 May 2012 at 12:02 pm #

    Melanie – I too am a hairy Greek chick. I have pubic hair halfway down my thighs. And I have decided that upkeep just isn’t worth it. The way I see it, the hair is part and parcel of being a Mediterranean woman. I have thick head-hair, as well as full eyebrows and eyelashes, and I actually think it’s sexy. Kind of an old-world mystique. Aphrodite didn’t shave a thing.

    I remember swimming in a filthy pond with my mostly hairless German boyfriend. When we got out, every body hair was coated in mud. He was nearly bare, and I was completely striped. He thought it was hilarious, and I remember feeling exotic. :)

  55. morgaine responded on 26 May 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    Also, Kate: 1) that monster bikini is PERFECTION AND I WANT IT; 2) “its sliver of a bottom giving my brain a wedgie” is the most perfect phrase I’ve read in a while.

  56. Ali responded on 26 May 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    I used to have the same feelings about my bikini line until I found this product called “coochie cream” – you can find it online or in sexy stores. It’s a shaving cream specifically for your pubes and leaves you silky and rash free!!! If you can’t find that, try shaving with conditioner – that works well too!

  57. Jessica responded on 26 May 2012 at 4:26 pm #

    I’m with you. I’ve been wearing bikinis for the past few years because I just said “fuck it”. I typically only swim with my family (my husband and four kids) and I’m too *ahem* “frugal” to want to spend a lot on a bathing suit. So I usually end up getting one of the $16 jobs from Walmart. If people are around, I either stay in the water or put on a cover-up. When I was big and pregnant I rocked a Baby Phat swimsuit cover that was a black velour, strapless romper that said “Baby Phat” on the butt. I just couldn’t pass it up because it made me laugh too much. Not bad for a 30-year-old mom.

  58. Karen responded on 27 May 2012 at 9:49 am #

    First of all: I totally and utterly love you for writing this post.
    I have to say that shopping for a bikini is still murder for me. However last year a miracle happened and I was able to just randomly pick one up while I was shopping in the sales in Sweden (of all places). A bikini that looks great, feels great, even with all the wobbly bits.
    I guess that a great bikini goes a long way. And also: no miniscule bottoms! I have boy short-like bottoms and they’re half the work for me to look balanced… hehe.

  59. San D responded on 27 May 2012 at 10:56 am #

    Just came back from a mini bake off vacation in Florida where everyone is sensible and wears whatever the heck makes them feel comfortable, jiggly bits be damned. Here is my question, or maybe it is a statement. You are going on vacation with people who unconditionally love you, and always have and always will, with or without your body issues. I doubt any of them (including the girlfriends) will be judging you by your physical Rubenesque changes. They will be there to have a great time, not to perseverate on your pubes, arms, thighs or stomach. Those mythical people at the resort who will be the “judgers”, well you won’t ever see them again, will you? Oh, and I recommend a tankini as well. Just got one with boyshorts, and not only is it comfortable, but looks practical as well.

  60. jessica responded on 27 May 2012 at 11:46 am #

    i am so glad you exist. thank you for reminding me that the road to self-confidence is not a straight shot that will remain consistent once i reach a certain point. i am so glad to hear that you too have days in which you feel hot and then days it’s the opposite.

    some days i feel so unattractive and i feel as if i live in a world of beauty in which i was given none. it sounds so ridiculous to actually type this out, but it actually breaks my heart that i am not more beautiful for my husband. he never leads me to believe he doesnt think i am attractive, yet when i am around gorgeous women i just want to run and hide and apologize i can’t be more. sigh.

    thank you for hope.

  61. Mallory responded on 27 May 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    I have never been self-conscious in a bathing suit because of my body, but only because of my body hair. I have so much of it & it comes with a rash most of the time & grows back quick. It is seriously the only reason I dread swim wear. Otherwise, I like my body and its purposes. I also really like the way water, sand, seaweed, wind, and warm sun feel on my bare skin, so I can easily get past my jiggles and lumps.

    Side note: I saw a thing circulating on fbook, one of those meme e-card things I think that read, “real women have curves so men have something to hold on to.” At first, I was like oh yay a positive body image, but then I stopped that thought when I realized it is basically implying if you don’t have curves you’re not a “real” woman. It was designed to make curvier girls feel good about themselves, but they’re basically doing the same thing they’re trying to stop! So frustrating. Can’t we all just appreciate bodies for being bodies!

  62. morgaine responded on 27 May 2012 at 5:23 pm #

    Mallory – YES. Same with the “when did this become hotter than this?” meme, featuring ’50s stars vs. today’s stars. If fluctuating beauty standards teach us anything, it’s that beauty is SUBJECTIVE. Arbitrarily denigrating any one group adds nothing of value to the discussion.

  63. Tobasco responded on 27 May 2012 at 9:04 pm #

    I did not read the other responses so I apologize if this has been covered. What I want to ask you is why do you have to wear a bikini in order to prove that you accept your body? Why does the bikini have to be the gold standard? I wore a bikini once ever – for my honeymoon because my husband made such a big deal about me wearing one. I was very fit and had a socially approved bikini body at the time. But a bikini was just not ‘me’. I just plain feel more like myself in a one piece. That doesn’t mean I’m insecure.

    Now, if you want to wear one and feel comfortable then that’s a different story. But I don’t feel like you have to wear one to be confident.

    (also, have you explored the tankini? My long-torsoed friends swear by them).

  64. sooz responded on 27 May 2012 at 9:19 pm #

    Forget bikinis…I have bathing suit anxiety! I’m always self-conscious in one. Weirdly when I am alone & just out of the shower I catch myself thinking that I don’t look so bad naked even though I am very soft and jiggly. Go figure! Enjoy your vacay & wear the damnable bikini with pride!

  65. Emily Merkle responded on 28 May 2012 at 1:27 am #

    Etsy – a local biz – has some great 50s bikinis you’s look great in…
    http://www.etsy.com/search?includes=tags&q=50s+bikini

  66. Ray responded on 28 May 2012 at 9:28 pm #

    It’s interesting that you bring up the bikini issue. Only because I was literally just trying on my bikini from a couple of summers ago and looking at myself in the mirror. I find myself wanting to switch to a one-piece. Even though I’m normally pretty okay with how my body looks in terms of size, I am a little self-conscious about some new scars on my back from eczema. They are dark and patchy. They are slowly fading, but it seems a shame to put my bikini away over something that is completely natural. I have scars. My body is not perfect. But it’s mine, and it’s beautiful. So I’m going to wear the bikini anyway. (Though I might try a run or two to help my confidence.)

  67. Jen H responded on 29 May 2012 at 9:21 am #

    So, can I play (a friendly) devil’s advocate? The premise here is that unless you are comfortable wearing a bikini, you are not comfortable with your body? I love my body, I have grown to love its pear shape, soft arms and little pouch that never fully went away after my children were born… but I don’t want to wear a bikini. I am not ashamed – I just don’t want to be so… naked in front of others. I’m not out for display. This soft, pale, somewhat lumpy body that has loved and birthed and held and breastfed is not for the whole world to see and judge, it’s really just for me and the people who love it and appreciate it. I am quite happy on the beach in a tankini and a long flowing skirt, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. Take some time to think about the root of your discomfort – why do you want to wear a bikini? do you want to wear one?

    Your blog is so incredibly insightful, thanks for providing lots of food for thought. My daughter made her first cake ON HER OWN this week (she’s 8) and I thought of you :-)

  68. Jennifer responded on 29 May 2012 at 11:47 am #

    I didn’t read all of the comments, so someone may have already mentioned this… but if you are trying Nair for the first time, BE CAREFUL, especially if you are doing your bikini line… I have used Nair on my legs before, and usually I can use it a couple times, and then suddenly it gives me THE MOST HORRIBLE RASH. Seriously. I can’t even imagine what that would be like on my bikini line… So I recommend trying it out on a less sensitive area a few times first, and then going for it if it is okay.

    FYI, Veet was always a little less damaging to me than Nair, but still gave me a rash eventually. But it took a whole summer of use to happen, instead of on the 2nd or 3rd use.

  69. Kate responded on 29 May 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    Hey! I’ve been loving these comments, and haven’t had time to respond, since I was with my family for Memorial Day weekend.

    But just to clarify quickly: I don’t think wearing a bikini is the ultimate body image test. You can love your body and hate bikinis. No argument here. I think FOR ME, it feels important to like the way I look wearing a very small amount of clothes. If I end up always feeling uncomfortable doing that in front of other people, that’s not the end of the world. But right now, the not feeling good in front of other people feels like it might be a symptom of not feeling good in front of myself. Which I don’t like!

  70. Just Me responded on 29 May 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    I am almost 49. I’ve had 3 kids. I have a lumpy belly caused by liposuction that I went through because my ex managed to convince me that I wasn’t good enough because of my belly sticking out. I have jiggly thighs and a bigger butt than I would like. And I wear a bikini. At first I feel insecure and nervous and scared, but I look at other people in bikinis, and I see that they have jiggly thighs or a belly that sticks out too or a large butt. And I realize that it doesn’t matter. I don’t have to be perfect any more than they have to be. And I see that lumpy belly as a reminder that I *am* good enough and I never have to let anyone else convince me that I’m not. Wearing the bikini is my affirmation to myself of that fact.

    Wear the bikini. You’re perfect just as you are. :)

  71. Celynne responded on 29 May 2012 at 3:52 pm #

    That second bikini is killer, I would so wear that. I wear a tie-dyed triangle string top and a blue bathing-skirt instead though. The bathing-skirt is awesome, it lets me swim about happily while being modestly covered while out of the water. I have a thing about anybody except my most intimate partners being able to see the shape of my crotch so clearly a skimpy bikini bottom wouldn’t cut it, but skirtinis are fun! Also, if you’re worried about your breasts, they do make bra-style bikini tops. One year I had one that was both padded AND had an underwire, those boobs were going nowhere. Good luck finding one you like! (I’m avoiding string-ties from now on ever since the incident with the nibbly fishes)

  72. Catherine responded on 29 May 2012 at 5:40 pm #

    I have only ever owned one bikini and it was a gift from a girlfriend when I was about 13 or 14. It was *never* seen on by any other living person. It was pink with spots all over it and came in a matching bag and instructions showing how many different ways you could wear it. The bits covering my nonexistent breasts were square. As I said earlier *no-one* ever saw it on and I have never worn a bikini.

  73. Marylou responded on 30 May 2012 at 9:48 am #

    Advice about the pubic hair…

    I just started out a comment with that phrase…

    So I wax. I was super opposed to the idea until a friend convinced me. And I’m not going to sugar coat it. It’s painful. Also you will want to do it more than once before the beach. Mine grew back pretty quickly after the first time. Also you have to wait at least 6 weeks between waxings.

    And soooooo what I did for the time between the waxings was I bought a skirted bottom for my bikini.
    http://www.victoriassecret.com/swimwear/extra-coverage-bottoms-and-one-pieces/skirted-bottom-forever-sexy?ProductID=32517&CatalogueType=OLS

  74. J responded on 30 May 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    I find that shaving is super itchy etc. at first but if I do it consistently, that goes away…that means you have to shave during the winter, too, which sucks. But I guess if all else fails you could try just shaving, gritting your teeth and bearing with it for a couple of weeks.

  75. Helen responded on 30 May 2012 at 3:44 pm #

    I totally second the commenters who suggested modcloth! They are a little pricey (to me, at least) but vintage inspired and a little more modest than string bikinis, to be sure:

    http://www.modcloth.com/shop/twopiece-swimwear/beach-blanket-bingo-two-piece-in-black

    http://www.modcloth.com/shop/twopiece-swimwear/lake-me-with-you-two-piece

  76. Mary responded on 03 Jun 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    Late to the party, but I just want to throw out some encouragement to those who would like to try professional bikini waxing … yeah, it does hurt. But for me, it has been worth it every time! I always feel sleeker, sexier, fancier afterward.
    Don’t be embarrassed – you think those aestheticians haven’t seen it all? It’s nothing new for them, and most will do all they can to keep up a good conversation to distract you. You’re done in fifteen minutes, and you get to treat yourself to a glass of wine or ice cream cone afterward. Why not?
    I don’t get my wax done as often as I would like, but this is due to not having the time (working seven days a week). During the summer, I still work seven days a week, and thus do not ever see the sun, much less have time to go to the beach, or have sex with the boyfriend … BUT I still like to get it done, just for myself.

  77. Kris responded on 07 Jun 2012 at 3:50 pm #

    Late to the party and totally new, but I just wanted to share: I’m wiggly and jiggly in lots of places (5’11″ and wear a size 18ish) and WILL NOT wax. I also wear two piece swimsuits. Check out lands end’s beach living collection. Their bottoms have good coverage and will cover your fuzz (shave your bikini line if you want a panty bottom or just pick a cute skirt-y one) and they make tops (with our without tummy coverage) in lots of bra sizes for those of us that need support. It’s not technically a bikini, but it’s two pieces and your tummy showing (if you want)

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