Aaron and I were blessed to be able to spend the weekend at some friends lake house this recently. Anytime someone says, “hey I know you guys are busy, but we'd love to invite you to our lake house” the answer is always – yes! Well, not always, because if you are a complete stranger and you say that to me, I will start chanting “stranger danger” and run away. If we are friends, I will hug you and ask if we can leave right now. Getting away from life and our kids is always relaxing and refreshing for us. In fact I hold strong to the fact that I'm a better mom when I leave my kids for a few days and get rejuvenated to do all that is required from me as a mom when I return.
As I was packing I threw in my bathing suit because it's been warm here in Austin lately and I just thought on a whim that I might need it. As I was sifting through my bathing suit drawer – which is not a big drawer because my wardrobe of suits is small – I grabbed my handy-dandy tankini and was on my way.
When we arrived at the lake house I was so thankful that God allowed the sun to shine the entire time and I was able to participate in one of my favorite hobbies. Laying by the water. In this case it was a lake that you couldn't pay me $500 to jump into. Maybe $1000 and I would, but I'm still not certain. The reasoning behind this is because when we first arrived at the lake house we were out by the water and some sort of carp-fest was happening and the fish were either fighting each other to the death, or mating. We still aren't sure, but the water was immersed with huge carps and they were splashing around way to much for this to be a normal day in the sea – I mean lake – for them. Anyhow, back to my favorite hobby. Me + book + water + sun = best day eva. And yes I just left off the r because that just seems to be the best way to say that phrase.
As I was laying by the lake listening to the carps recreate I asked my friend if she wore bikini's. Growing up in a conservative, Baptist church this was a great question to find out how serious one was with their faith. The good girls didn't wear two piece bathing suits and the girls that were always walking the line not only wore them, but looked smoking hot in them. I was the girl with the one piece, but pissed and wanted a bikini only my mom wouldn't let me. In fact my senior year in high school I remember one of the maddest I was ever at my mom was when she wouldn't let me use my own money to buy a two piece bathing suit. My own money. My first stop after meeting my new roommate my freshman year in college sure enough was the closest All You Need is Water to get myself the sexiest bikini an 18-year-old could wear. I'll show her.
Anyhow she answered that yes she does and asked if I did. Of course I did, but something happened last summer and I never put one on. From 18 year's old I always wore a bikini and then the summer I turned 35 I couldn't make myself do it. I thought about it last summer, and couldn't put my finger on it, but it just never seemed right. I was 35 now, and that seemed like an age where you should start moving into grown up stuff (whatever that means!). It could also have something to do with the fact that I've always hated my middle section. Finally at 35 I thought it's time to call a truce with the middle section and cover it up.
I have no feelings towards it one way or the other, but I wasn't feeling confident lugging my kids to the pool last year in a bikini. Not sure if it's because I'm 35, or 20 lbs heavier than I was back when I was 18.
I got to thinking today though about this and wondered what you think. Do you wear a bikini? Did you grow up with someone telling you it was wrong? Do you think it's wrong now? When is it too old to sport a two piece? Or is it ever?
I was always too shy growing up to wear one, plus like you said the good girls didn’t wear them. Until one summer I was babysitting a family at the beach and the mom convinced me to let her buy me my first two piece. It was a yellow with blue pooka dots. From then on I loved them until I hit 37. That was the summer I was pregnant with my 1st baby and seeing I haven’t lost the baby weight and #2 is due any day I haven’t worn one since. But it is my mission by the end of summer I’m gonna wear a two piece and feel good in it.
I LOVE that you wrote about this, because it’s something I think about OFTEN and have lots of conversations with friends about. Your experience with your mom is very similar to mine! No way was I allowed to wear a bikini while I lived under my parent’s roof, but then once I got married my mom actually bought me a couple of bikinis for my honeymoon. Funny, huh? I’m 32 with three kids (a boy and two girls) now and definitely have thought about how I want to approach this topic with our girls as they grow old enough to make decisions for themselves about swimsuits. I usually wear a tankini or a one piece vintage style, but have been playing around with the idea of high waisted bikini bottoms and a bikini top. How do you feel about those? I haven’t quite made up my mind. 🙂
I was allowed to wear them growing up, except when we were at church camp (we were Baptist.) And I will say I had the body then to be able to pull off a bikini. But as I get older (and before I hit 35) I realized that the people who wear bikinis on the beach for the most part aren’t wearing them for comfort. They are wearing them to be seen, and be seen for the wrong reasons. So now I struggle with it. Is it one of those hindsight is 20/20 things? I have a friend that can’t stand to have a one piece on b/c it irritates her. And she looks fine in in and isn’t strutting around the beach for attention. So I don’t know. I wish I could say there is a right/wrong answer, but there isn’t. Though if I could convince my sister to get my 10 year old niece to not strut around in one this Summer I would make that my current mission…
I think it depends. I mean right now I am in my 20’s and married and a very nice size. But I guess even though I have the freedom to wear it, I just would feel uncomfortable if my borthers in law or father in law or even a stranger were looking at me in a way that I don’t want (even if it were completely benign). So I normally wear a two piece but then have a cute top to cover up. 🙂
Too funny that you posted this – this week I finally bought a tankini. I haven’t worn a tankini or one piece since I was 14 (now 28). Up until 14, my mom said tankini’s/one piece only. After that she let me pick what I wanted (within reason). I’ve worn binkinis the last several years, but honestly always felt self conscious. We just adopted a baby girl and I decided it was time to “mommyfiy” things and get a tankini. For me, I felt I would be more comfortable toting around my little one and not have to worry about keeping my waist sucked in 😉
Who cares about rules girl?!? I’m sad that what we should or shouldn’t do is a topic of what we were allowed to do by parents’ or a church! What is happening when I wear a bikini? Am I causing others to fall into temptation to sin? Does it even matter that I should be able to wear what I want and others should deal with their own problems? What are my rights as a Christian? Just asking this question means my heart is in the total wrong place. Is my life lived for my own pleasure in “grey” areas? When I’m feeling free to do what I want despite the weaknesses of others, I am causing temptation to others eventhough I’m not doing anyting “wrong”. Is the question about what’s right and wrong according to a specific rule or Bible verse or should it be a question of how to best serve our fellow “people” as you say it. Of course we have free choice. But how do we “LOVE WELL” in the area of the amazing bodies God has given women to captivate with?? And about being 35 and showing your body… you are truly beautiful at every age. Mature action is not about an age. Who cares about the rules?!? Who cares what others’ judgements might be of you and your age? What does “LOVING WELL” look like here? 🙂 Thanks for bringing such an important topic up! If your husband doesn’t struggle with visual tempatation and sin, you are blessed. Please help the rest of our husbands from being led into temptation in public places that may be hard to avoid. How awesome a ‘girls only’ beach would be…! Maybe there will be one in heaven!!
I have recently been mulling over why the rightness or wrongness of something is an issue of a parents’ or church’s rule or an old tradition?? I wish we could just learn how to “LOVE WELL” in all areas and not rely on what “good girls” vs “bad girls” do to judge if something is right or wrong. I’m totally with you on this dressing issue. I just don’t want to give up my right to look young and sexy! I also hate the battle Satan has so many Godly men locked into though with visual temptation and sin. I hate the effect it has on marriages and beautiful Godly wives! That passion leads me to give up my “rights” to dress according to my body type or age. Now don’t think I’m wearing dresses that make me look like a barn! We women are built to captivate with the way God made our bodies and we should! I do want to be careful not to wear or not wear things that may cause a man to stumble though. It’s not just an old tradition or worn out fahion to dress showing care for the men having to live in a world where there’s a half naked girl on every other comercial or billboard. Let’s “LOVE WELL” men who struggle so hard to be pure and the women who are loved by them! Maybe in heaven nakedness won’t be struggle for men and we can be the beauties we were made to be in the physical!
I accidentlly posted twice because I thought the first post was lost. Feel free to delete one 🙂
I grew up being able to wear bikinis (and my father was a Baptist minister, oh the scandal!). I don’t have the body now to wear a bikini, but that being said I don’t think I would even if I could pull it off.
Last summer one of my boys made a comment about a girl being naked at the pool. She wasn’t, but she was in a bikini. I told him she wasn’t and he said, “She might as well be. It almost looks the same.” We have never talked to him about things like that, but that was his own observation. I do think there’s something to be said for modesty. I don’t think it has anything to do with being a mom or your age. I just think there’s no reason to flash your body to people.
This used to be a big issue for me–I never wore a bikini mainly because I didn’t feel comfortable in one. I compared myself to others with “perfect bikini bodies” and felt that I didn’t match up, so I couldn’t wear one. I felt too fat or that i had too much cellulite. However, when we began traveling internationally, especially to Israel and the Middle East, my tune began to change. In the Middle East on the Mediterranean, EVERYONE wears bikinis–young, old, fat, skinny, pregnant, it’s not about showing skin or being sexy. It doesn’t MATTER how you look. It’s not ABOUT how you look. It’s about being comfortable with who you are and who God made you to be. It’s a beautiful thing to witness. When I first saw an 80+ year old woman on the beach in a bikini, I was a little put off. But then I was proud! Proud that as a woman, she chose comfort over how she looked. We are one of the only countries that puts so much stigma on who can and can’t show skin. In some countries, such as Africa, it’s a different issue. The thighs are considered the most sensual part of the body so to show them off would be disrespectful. But here in America, it’s not about being disrespectful, it’s become an issue of “how we look” in a bikini. We find ourselves judging girls by whether they “wear it well” or not. Last summer, I wore my first bikini EVER at the age of 42–granted, it was usually in the privacy of my own backyard pool or a friends private pool. But, when I had it on I felt wonderful, I felt strong, and I felt comfortable with my own skin. I do not have a perfect bikini body. I have extra middle fat and cellulite on the backs of my legs. But, no one cares except me. And I shouldn’t care either! Now, with all that being said, I do believe that there is such a thing as a modest bikini and bikini that is made to say “look at me and my sexiness”. I think that you can wear a bikini at 40+ and still be modest! Good post and worth thinking about!
Like Ruth, I was always too shy too. I also feel that most bikini’s leave little to no room for imagination. I’m sure all bathing suits can make a brother in Christ stumble, but it seems the more skin shown, the more temptations for lust.
This video on the history of he bikini blew my mind. She had a lot of insight as to how it actually perpetuates women being objectified by men. Worth a few minutes for anyone interested!
Oh, good discussion. I grew up not being allowed to wear a bikini even though I had an “illegal” one I wore when I could or I was allowed to wear it in the backyard by the pool if I was alone and sunbathing. (And my older brothers weren’t home.) Early in our married years I would wear one on vacations etc. But in our wiser, older, married years (ahem, like age 30) I began to feel uncomfortable wearing it around anyone else besides my husband. The last thing I would want to do is cause one of my friend’s husbands, or my husband’s friends, to have impure thoughts…about me. Bleck! When asked point blank how he felt my husband admitted that he would rather I not wear a bikini in public (but was afraid to ask that I not for fear of seeming controlling). A few years ago there was a bathing suit emergency when using a friend’s pool w/ my kids and I had nothing but an old bikini (modest – bottom even had a skirt). My two boys were like 10 at the time and they made a big deal out of it (granted, it was different) so much so that I didn’t stay outside long. I remembered my dad’s rule about not wearing one in front of my brother’s so I asked Mark, “So….guys and bikinis…..if it’s your sister wearing one….???” He just looked at me and said “Um, yeah, it doesn’t matter.” That was eye opening. Now that my boys are 14 I DEFINITELY do not want to be wearing a bikini in front of them. I mean I certainly wouldn’t walk around the house in my bra and underwear in front of them and a bikini shows the same stuff.
I love this response! We wouldn’t parade around in public in our underwear which often covers more than a bikini.
i love your responses, Star. i completely agree that we have an obligation to our fellow brothers to cover up a whole lot more than we do. it’s always hard for me when women justify their clothing choices by saying that the men should just not look and “control” themselves more. they obviously don’t know how difficult that is for men, especially in our society today… and you can see by Heather’s comment below, how her son saw someone as “naked” even though she had a bikini on. that says a lot to me. and it isn’t just men we have to be careful about anymore, it’s young boys. i’ve read that the average age that boys are exposed to pornography is 8, and that just breaks my heart…. now, would i wear a bikini when only my husband would see me? YES! i just have to get in shape enough to even like the way i look in one, but that’s another issue…
love your response too, julie! something to definitely remember about brothers… don’t think i thought about that enough growing up, and looking back with one of my brothers and knowing what i know about his struggles, i hate that i wasn’t more aware of it…
I used to think my dad was just being fanatical. He hated that I had a Marilyn Monroe poster in my bedroom but I thought he was being ridiculous. Of course I didn’t know then what I know now about boys and how their brains work 🙁
I got a one piece just last summer, first one in YEARS!
I started felt uncomfortable around my friend’s husband. I started thinking about why I was uncomfortable and why I was wearing a bikini in the first place. The verse that stuck out to me was 1 Corinthians, “all things are lawful, but not all things are helpful”. I took my feelings of discomfort as a red flag as well. Even though I am free to wear whatever I want, I think it is very loving to consider my own husband and people that I am around.
I told my husband that I was going to get a one-piece, as he has never seen me in one before! I all admit, it did feel a bit strange being the only girl in a one-piece, but the sweetest thing happened after. After spending the day at the pool with our friends, my husband thanked me for wearing the one-piece and saving all of me just for him. That hit me hard, and really showed me how important of a topic this can be. I think it is so much more than if you “feel” good in a bikini or feel “young enough” for a bikini. Honestly, I discovered that I was wearing a bikini so that people would notice me and because everyone else does it.
My husband has brought it up several times in the past year, thanking me for buying one and how cool he thinks it is that I wear one!
So right! It is so hard that we will never truly understand the struggles that men face. It seems crazy that they could look at sisters or mothers in that way, but just crazy to girls!
Great questions and great discussion! I’m a 31 one year old mom who’s a runner so I can still pull off a bikini. Although I just had my second baby three weeks ago so we’ll see if my midsection bounces back like it did the first time around :/ I do wear a bikini but it depends on who I’m with. If I’m with just girlfriends I’ll wear one. If I’m with just my husband I’ll wear one. If I’m with strangers, like people I’ll probably never see again, (at the beach or pool by myself) I’ll wear one. But, if I’m with other guys, married or not, who I know and see often I will opt to wear a tankini that covers my midsection. I’d prefer for the guys in my life not to have an image of my body (in what’s equivelant to a bra and underwear) engrained in their mind. For their sake and mine. It’s not really a “help them not be tempted” thing because that’s on them. I just thinks it’s better that way, for them and for me. Just my own personal policy based on my own convictions.
Also, I’ve always hated how most Christian circles make girls/women swim in shorts and a tshirt but it’s ok for the guys to go shirtless with their shorts hanging off their butts. If we have to be fully clothed in the water or when it’s 90 degrees outside then they should too. But that’s probably just my rebellious side speaking. Rant over.
Courtney- Amen sister. I have often struggled with this whole issue of “modesty” and being a christian woman. I’ve lived in a Muslim country where women are forced to cover up their entire bodies and faces because they will make men stumble and have also lived in Europe where topless beaches are everywhere and nudity is literally no big deal. In the states, where I live now, I feel conflicted. I wear a bikini and have 2 kids. I’ve worn a bikini for years. THis past year I decided to buy a tankini and wore it sometimes during the summer…usually it was because the tankini was strapless and I didn’t want tan lines….regardless it got me thinking about modesty, my body, my husband, other men. I basically came to the same conclusion as Courtney, why does the responsibility for modesty just automatically fall on the women? I agree that I don’t want to cause anyone to stumble, in any way, but I don’t know exactly where that line is. Men are shirtless and have their trunks hanging off their booties as Courtney said, and it’s just the way it is. THe feminist in me pushes back at this. So I wear a bikini and feel comfortable and fine with it. I’ve also asked my husband what he thinks and he honestly doesn’t really care one way or another- he says it’s up to me. I don’t think I will allow my daughter to wear one though until she understands how to carry herself when she’s wearing one…but she’s only 2 so we’ve got some time:)