Sometime around April the magazines and news shows start talking about getting a beach-ready body. Today I gained a real perspective on that term. I sat in my comfy beach chair with my toes in the sand wearing my 3 year old bathing suit and a goofy baseball hat to keep my pale scalp from burning, just watching.
I watched as a petite, fit young mother sat in a sports bikini with her legs straddling a hole in the sand she dug with her toddlers. She was beach-ready. I watched as an overweight couple tumbled into each other laughing as they were knocked over by a wave. I watched as a tattooed thirty-something dad who looked like he used to work out dragged his daughter on a bogey board over the waves. He was beach-ready. I saw a pregnant mother holding her two-year old’s hand as he jumped gleefully over the foam. She was beach-ready. I saw a teenage couple – slim and youthful holding hands as they walked along the beach looking for shells. They were beach-ready. I saw a lifeguard -with the muscular physique of an athlete pull her hair back into a ponytail as she blew her whistle at someone who’d wandered out of the safety zone. Yup, she was beach ready. I watched a man – he had to be 70 or more – walk up and down the beach with his metal detector beach-ready. Even the young women -he ones most targeted by those magazine covers – from tiny to plus-sized – all beach-ready and blissfully enjoying themselves.
I remembered a few months back standing in the fitting room with an armful of bathing suits. I remembered the nasty, critical things I told myself that day. “Disgusting. Fat.” I was so upset with myself that I convinced myself that I didn’t deserve to go to the beach or pool. I felt such shame that people would actually see me like that.
Now as I sit in my beach chair, I couldn’t feel more beach-ready. No one on this beach cares that I am not in peak shape. No one cares about cellulite on my legs or my muffin top. And finally, I don’t care either.
My son runs up to my chair, “Mom, are you ready to come in the water?” I take off my hat and sunglasses and race him to the surf.
Of course I’m ready.