Memorial Day is upon us and while we all honor the memory of soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom, some of us are preoccupied with something far more vain. The beginning of bathing suit season. Her face says it all, no? One month old and already miserable in a bathing suit, and she couldn't be cuter. I swear I remember taking this picture like it was yesterday. Five short years ago, I tortured my sweet little babe and took pictures of it. I knew that it was priceless and even then I remember wondering if we are just hard-wired to find the whole bathing suit experience traumatic. Or maybe that's just me.
Why do we care so much? I don't know too many men who feel very bothered about the prospect of suiting up. Really. What's the big deal? Why does bathing suit shopping send some of us into a panic or depression?
I can't remember for sure when I first began to loathe the whole thing. Third or fourth grade I think. Yikes. I'm pretty sure my body consciousness started the day I had my school i.d. photo taken and the aide who transcribed my weight shouted, "80 pounds! What is your mother feeding you?" in front of all of my peers. Seriously. It's burned into my memory. While I get the irony now (said lady was not exactly svelte), like many, I struggled with body-image and eating issues all through high school and at least the beginning of college.
Now I don't blame my adolescent issues solely on this lady who was probably better off collecting attendance cards that day. With maturity and experience came confidence, but the impression she left on me is obviously still strong some twenty-five years later. It reminds me of how powerful our words and actions are to our children. They are beyond observant and impressionable little people. Needless to say, the idea of raising my daughter to have confidence and not feel plagued by body-image issues is a daunting one to say the least. It might be unrealistic to think she will never be self-conscious, but I feel a big responsibility to set the right tone for her.
For right now, she's still just five and is beyond excited every time she puts a bathing suit on, because to her, it means summer. I kind of admire that. While getting into a bathing suit might never be my favorite thing, maybe I have to follow her lead, suck it up, (and in) and just enjoy the ride.