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Fill your life with experiences, love and bikinis. The long warm days of summer are among us in the northern hemisphere. These days are made for dancing under the full moon, lounging in the sun with a refreshing beverage in our hands, picnics under a shade tree, backyard barbeques and…bikinis.
The forbidden “B” word. Bikini. I said it.
Just the mere mention of this word can cause many women to experience cold sweats, heart palpitations and unbearable anxiety….
And these experiences completely drain any possible joy that could have been created.
What a waste.
I wasted my life for years thinking this way.
I was the woman who used to have meltdowns in the department store dressing room while criticizing every angle in that god-awful lighting. I never walked out excited about the season of fun and sun. Instead, I’d make a quick exit through the nearest door like the building was on fire. I felt discouraged and hopeless.
Then, like clockwork, early every summer, I’d instantly try to fix my “bikini unworthy” body.
- Feel miserable
- Run home from the store
- Google “bikini ready workouts”
- Commit to whipping myself into shape in 4 weeks or less
- Feel exhausted and still miserable
- Repeat in 365 days
My abs couldn’t get hard enough, my legs toned enough or my body perfect enough to feel good in a bikini.
This was how I behaved and felt no matter what my body looked like; the years when when I was a size 2 and the years I was a size 14. (I even had to shop for a size 20 once, so I have at opposite ends of the spectrum and miserable no matter what size my body was)
Clearly my size and number on the scale was not the antidote, but I was always convinced that it would be.
The battle was not with my body; it was in my own mind.
I was addicted to my own self-made imprisonment.
Perhaps you can relate to this toxic cycle.
Like many women I know, summers can be our season of misery.
When we should be soaking up the sun, we’re hiding under umbrellas in dresses. When the invitations for beach and pool parties come our way, we graciously decline with made up excuses. When people are surfing, skiing and floating in the cool water on a hot day, we are buried up in our homes eating food to numb our pain and disappointment while researching the next diet plan.
In short: Too many women are avoiding their own precious lives and bodies.
My Important Lesson from St. Tropez
In my early 30’s, I went to the South of France during the month of August. This is the month that Europeans escape the cities and head to the beach. And, it was there that I was immersed into what it means to have a “a great bikini season. ”
Along the beaches of St. Tropez , I witnessed the most glorious scene:
Women were celebrating and enjoying their bodies.
All shapes, all sizes, all colors, all ages.
They didn’t seem to have received the same memo I had stapled onto my forehead that declared that a woman can only feel great in her body if she looks like a Victoria’s Secret model.
Some were topless with their ta-tas hanging, swinging or jiggling as they walked along the sea.
Others were wearing the itsy bitsy teeny weenie bikinis that left little to the imagination.
I vividly remember one lady, who I’d guess was in her seventies, with absolutely gorgeous grey hair that was piled on top of her head. She strutted along the seashore in a metallic bikini.
Then there was a confident mom of two toddlers, wearing a thong while she prepared for a family picnic.
There was a woman who I’d guess was a size 14 making out with her boyfriend while lying in the sand. She was definitely enjoying her guy, her body and that glorious summer day.
In case you’re thinking that these women must have had perfect bodies or proportions, I must let you in on something: they were perfect, but not in the way we define that term when we relate to our bodies. They were perfect because they were gloriously inhabiting their bodies with joy, pleasure and passion.
Only one word would come to mind as I watched these women celebrating their bodies:
They weren’t imprisoned in their own minds and wrapping up their insecurities and doubt in a sarong or large bottom in an attempt to cover their cellulite, stretch marks or tummy pooches.
These were mothers, teenagers, grandmothers, sisters, wives, friends who seemed to be more interested in enjoying life than berating their bodies.
It’s as if they were saying: this is my body, and it’s here for my enjoyment not yours.
Returning home, I decided to lay down the weapons of mass destruction I had used against myself, because obviously my old way of being wasn’t working. Self-torture could not survive in my quest for liberation.
I was committed to not attaching to the thoughts that constantly told me things like….
You’re not thin enough.
She looks better than you.
Your stretch marks are hideous.
No man will desire you.
If I truly wanted to skinny dip with no shame, climb trees in a bikini, engage in meaningful conversations around a pool, tap back into that same love I had for summer as a small girl in the country of the deep south…. then I simply HAD to stop imprisoning my own self.
I had to choose self-love.
Yeah, yeah, yeah…I know.
It’s the whole self-love conversation, and it seems so easy and so cliche. So I beg you: Hear me out. Keep reading!
As someone who’s had to piece myself back together through eating disorders, extreme ranges in weight and a mind full of toxic, cruel thoughts, I can promise you that liberation cannot happen until you make a fierce commitment to love yourself.
Now, I’m not speaking of weekly pedicures or massages.
(hey, those indulgent acts are great, but I’ve sat beside miserable women getting their toes painted hot pink).
What I’m talking about is a daily practice that will change your life.
What is it?
I believe those bikini loving women in St. Tropez were oozing pure Elegance.
Elegance is not just the external piece (what they were wearing). Elegance was clearly shown via their state of mind. They had clearly cultivated their own exquisiteness and style, peace of mind around their bodies and a commitment to living a well-lived life.
Want to liberate yourself and have the best bikini season ever?
Stop blaming your weight or physicalities for the limitations YOU create for yourself.
Body liberation is….
…a feeling YOU get to create.
…enjoying and celebrating the body you have right now.
…treating yourself exquisitely (starting with your own self-talk)
…savoring this precious, wild summer and stopping the nonsense of putting your life on hold until one day when you’ve whipped yourself into shape.
I never thought I’d utter these words, but..
I finally feel liberated in my body!
In my 40s, I feel better emotionally, spiritually and physically than I did when I was thirty and a size two. There’s no more turning down invitations to anything that involves a bathing suit. I’ve learned to wakeboard and surf. And, yes, I’m usually the first to take it all off and skinny dip with no shame!
It’s my body and here for my own enjoyment.
But here is best part:
This fierce commitment has ultimately led to me having numerous summers full of self-confidence, and most importantly, memories that will make my 90-year old self proud.
So, as we begin this summer season, I’d like to give a loud shout out to the ladies of St. Tropez (“Merci!” “Gracias!” “Thank you!”) Just by you being unapologetically you and celebrating your body on that August summer day, you inspired this lady (and now thousands more via the French Kiss Life Movement)
We’re all now stopping the crazy self-imprisonment so that we can deeply French Kiss Life.
Did you grab the FKL Manifesto?
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