It’s that time of year again: bikini markdown season.
Just weeks ago, I was rushing to Target hours before vacation time, rotating 8-item-max after 8-item-max in and out of my 8-item-max dressing room just hoping to find a cut, color, and style that looked halfway decent on my apparently not-adequately-prepped-for-bikini-season bikini body. This is supposed to be the pinnacle of my hard work! I thought. This is supposed to be the moment of glory!
And yet I just hadn’t cared enough to overhaul my routine in the weeks prior, leaving me crossing every finger and toe hoping there’d be something that was somewhat acceptable to wear. Because as I’ve always been told by ads and media – along with the rest of America’s female population – if I don’t put in the work beforehand, I’m certainly not bikini-ready.
It’s almost hard to believe that mere weeks ago, so many of us were gazing longingly at the swimwear section with visions of goal-bodies and “I’ll wear that whens” dancing around in our heads. Now, those same barely-there strips of spandex give us the side-eye from their 40% off racks, mocking the fact that we’re back to where we started. And if we’re not, then we’ll surely be there soon. That’s what New Years Resolutions are for. Obviously.
The idea of preparing for a certain “body” – a bikini body, a spring break body, a holiday bod – is what industries are built on. They pressure us into feeling like we’re not ready, we’re not prepared, and certainly not well equipped to handle all the alleged pressures that come with vacationing. In the ’40s and ’50s, bikinis were a sign of rebellion – now, they’re symbolic of a goal that’s been accomplished. A bikini isn’t just an article of clothing, it’s a trophy you earn for doing things “right.” We’re supposed to work HARD to wear that bikini, dammit!, and we’re supposed to hate ourselves if we don’t. We’re supposed to ramp up our workouts before a vacation, and shame ourselves if we “fall off the wagon” before it’s over.
Maybe it’s just me, but don’t we have enough going on in our lives that can make us feel like we’re screw-ups? We didn’t get our car serviced on time. We missed that noon deadline. We forgot to text our friend back and messed up our plans. The very last thing we need is to make ourselves feel like we’re in the wrong, for something that affects no one but us, for something completely in our control, and for a “right” that we ultimately define for ourselves.
Here’s a thought: what if there WAS no wagon to fall off or get on? What if there was no bikini body, no spring break body, no holiday dress-ready bod?
What if feeling good in our skin wasn’t just a seasonal treat – what if it was a year-round reality?
The aforementioned trip I took back in July was my first summer vacation in five (I know) years. No summer vacation in 5 years = no bikini, which therefore = no “bikini body.” In the weeks leading up to my five-day getaway, I found myself feeling like I wasn’t doing enough. Work was crazed, mornings were rushed, and nights were late almost every day of the week.
I’m not exercising enough. I’m eating past 7pm. Maybe I should do a juice cleanse?
The thoughts that wish-washed in and out of my mind started to pile up, creating anxiety around a trip that was literally just about the sit-back-and-relax. That’s when I found myself in Target less than 24 hours before leaving, hoping that I’d find something I’d feel somewhat decent in. Because there’s this idea that we’re not supposed to feel good in a bikini if we haven’t beaten ourselves to a pulp beforehand. Which I certainly had missed out on.
Most sites and magazines will talk about “the bikini body” right before summer starts – but it’s actually more important we talk about it NOW that summer’s calmed down and closing up shop.
There’s actually a lot of positive to take from this if we dig deep: for a few weeks out of the year, we strive to be our healthiest selves. If we just focused on what we really want instead of what we think we want, this kind of thing could actually change our lives.
What do we REALLY want when we say we want a bikini body, then?We don't necessarily want to LOOK different - we want to FEEL different about the way we look. Click To Tweet
Sometimes this means letting go of the few pounds those late nights packed on. Sometimes that means gaining muscle on top of our frame. Sometimes that means adding a little softness where there was rigidity. But these are not the main event; they’re the supporting players in this varsity game of Feeling Good.
Think about it: if we felt good about how we looked, would we really want to change it?
The goal, then, is not to exercise or eat differently – it’s to figure out what makes you feel your best and go from there.
Let me tell you, I did not ramp up my workouts or change my diet drastically – actually, at all – before my bikini body vacay. Because every day, summer or otherwise, I strive to feel good about myself and in myself. It frees up brain space to devote myself and my energy to other things. Like my relationships, career, through line, and passions. Things that sometimes become eclipsed when those feeling-bad feelings take control.
I didn’t do one thing differently to prep for this vacation, even though I know I could have to have been .001% more tighter or toned or whatever you’d associate with a bikini body.
And guess what.
I had a blast. In a bikini.
On my body.
I’m not saying there isn’t validity in eating a little bit cleaner before you go away, or in a post-vacation detox after you’ve had a little too much to eat/drink/keep you up all night for a few days on end. Hell, I’m there right now! I don’t feel *great* but I know I will soon. Instead of trying to find quick fixes and panicking about deadlines, our goal should be to establish a healthy foundation at a neutral time so it’s there for us to fall back on when we ARE feeling out of sorts.
Come December, we’re going to be going on holiday vacations, then after that, there’s “spring break” season, then after that we’re back into summer. The cycle will never stop, and if we’re being truly honest here, neither will the ads and sales that tell us we need to get our butts into gear. There will always be something to “get ready” for, but that doesn’t mean YOU need to “get ready” for it. Focus on health and happiness year-round, and I promise you, you’ll never need to worry about overhauling your whole routine and sending yourself on a roller-coaster.
How we FEEL about something ultimately determines how it LOOKS to us. Feel good for you, and you’ll look good for you. Feel hot on the inside, and you’ll look hot on the outside. You are the only opinion that matters.
Your “bikini body” is just your body with a bikini on it.
If you have a bikini, and you have a body, you’re already there.
Easiest game plan ever.