When I became a mother I wanted to make sure my children all knew how to safely float on their back if surprisingly launched into a body of water, make their way to the edge, and hoist themselves safely to shore. While I've put them all in swim lessons every summer since the age of three, Dr. Brown has also taught them the ways of wild waters - how to hold safe to a secure branch if they topple overboard on a boat or raft and how to sit up in a seated position with legs out front to let the river current carry them.
Truth be told, I'm not a very good swimmer at all and I unfortunately inherited my mother's fear of the water. I can do one stroke and don't know how to hold my breath that well. Using my fingers to plug my nose when going off waterslides is the only surefire way I know how to keep from inhaling water. And that's pretty tricky if you're holding a toddler on your lap and lifting them several feet in the air to keep them from going under.
All that being said, I adore the pool. Every summer we purchase the family swim pass for the Boise Public Pools and spend nearly every afternoon there with friends. We bring snacks to share and shade tents and magazines. We laugh and talk and reapply sunscreen. And for the past four summers, I've put my body in a bikini while doing so. Every year the bright high desert sun comes out and reaches temperatures of 100 degrees and for years I longed for less clothing, less fabric sticking to my wet skin, but was too scared. I was terrified to show more of my jiggly bits, my stretchmarks, my cellulite, my wrinkles, my flabby arms, my dimpled knees.
But the freedom that came with those bikinis was extraordinary, and I'm not just talking about the skin that could breathe. I'm talking about the ease of pulling down a bikini bottom to pee in a public restroom with one hand while wrangling a baby with the other. I'm talking about feeling the sun on my shoulders and relaxing as it bore right into my heart and warmed my soul.
It still takes a conscious effort, but instead of focusing on what my swim body isn't, I choose to focus on what my swim body is. My swim body is able to carefully wade through masses of toddlers in two feet of water to snatch mine from the bottom of the slide at the kiddie pool. My swim body lays out towels to dry and rounds up dollars for popsicles from the snack shack and repairs broken goggles. My swim body is strong and sexy and soft and bares stripes of stretchmarks that get more golden in the sun. It shows off a maze of wonky tan lines from a million different bathing suits on dark Native American skin that I inherited from my ancestors. My swim body cheers on kids anxiously passing swim tests for the lifeguards and watches carefully in the wave pool. It loves ice cold beers on creeks while camping and packs sandwiches for hiking into Idaho mountain hot springs.
I was honored and excited to be asked by Swimsuits For All to participate as an "everyday model" of sorts for their summer #myswimbody campaign. I'm a big fan of their plus-sized bikinis (or fatkinis, as I like to call them) and their philosophy, and they're fans of my work as a body positive activist, too. You may know them as the company that put the first super sexy plus-sized woman in the pages of Sports Illustrated with their swimsuit advertisement. Last summer they featured me on their Instagram and website as part of their #curvesinbikinis June campaign and gave me a free swimsuit of my choice as part of it, and I happened to pick a pretty infamous Swim Sexy brand black bikini that has ignited a bit of a revolution.
I'm super proud of all the things #myswimbody can do, both in and out of the pool. I think seeing bodies of all shapes and sizes uncovered and enjoying the water and the sun and their children and the summer is radical, revolutionary and so necessary. Today is the last day of school, something I've been anxiously awaiting for about two months now, and to celebrate, we're headed out for our traditional end-of-the-year afternoon celebration at the pool and slushies from Sonic Drive-Thru. Here's to a summer enjoying #myswimbody, and I hope you enjoy yours, too.