The Magic Bathing Suit

Photo: Sarah Kunst

First things first, here’s a deal that everyone reading this will love! This bathing suit I’m wearing is crazy flattering and appropriate for any situation and every age. It’s on sale right now from Aerie for under $20. I’m serious. Not an ad, just a public service announcement.

You’re welcome.

Second, I can’t believe that I’m posing in a bathing suit. Like not just in a vacation snap. But hand-behind-my-head, posing for a photo. As a former EIC of a Conde Nast magazine, an award-winning New York Times journalist, Ivy League graduate–and not a 20something Instagram influencer–this was definitely not in the five-year-plan.

Bathing suit shots can launch a thousand likes or a multi-million dollar business for Instagram influencers. My friends, Tasha Oakley and Devin Brugman, from A Bikini A Day have literally built an empire from it. But for many women, who lead a life less documented, they wouldn’t post a photo of themselves if you paid them to. Real life is sometimes the opposite of Instagram life.

But here’s the reality as I see it in this post. There I am, smiling in a bathing suit. Did I feel slightly ridiculous? Yes. Did I feel self-conscious? Double yes. Can I see a little pooch of my tummy? Yes, I can. Does it bother me? Actually, it doesn’t. Am I surprised that I don’t hate the photos? Totally.

The Get Go is an experiment with living differently and letting go of a lot of the things that used to define me. The result is that I view myself differently. I haven’t lost my editor’s eye. I still see things that aren’t remotely model-perfect, but I’m not bothered by them. I relax as it is.

Bathing Suit Season: It’s About How You Think, Not How You Look

As women, we groan over our photos all the time. Up until the Get Go, I’d never met a photo I didn’t NOT like my entire life. Part of it is harsh self-judgment. Part of it is, what kind of narcissistic monsters would we be if we dared admit to liking ourselves or how we looked? Like the scene from Mean Girls when Regina George tries to trick Cady, So you admit you think you’re pretty?

So let me pull the curtain back a little further. Almost every celebrity, model and influencer I’ve ever worked with in my magazine career also has insecurities. No one is perfect. No one feels 100% amazing 100% of the time. Being in a bathing suit carries a fair amount of emotional baggage for most American women no matter who you are or what you look like. We’re as close to naked in public as we can be. Our bodies, our self images on display in a way we’re not used to. Our challenge as women:

  1. Getting over our self-judgment of what we think we should look like.
  2. Admitting that we’re actually worth liking just as we are by our selves and others.

Both of these have nothing to do with the physical and everything to do with the mental mindset.

How to Really Have the Best. Summer. Ever.

If you’re not having the best summer ever, are you even having a summer?! The season can come with unreasonable expectations which can spoil an inherently fun and happy time of year. It can be a time of comparison: bodies, vacations, parties, romance. If someone else is winning at summer, does that mean you’re losing? If you want to have your best summer, my foolproof suggestion is to rely less on your friends or social media for validation, but rather to befriend yourself. One of the most profound pieces of advice anyone has ever given me is: be your own best friend. This is especially true during bathing suit season. Find a suit that you love and loves you back. Speak kindly to yourself and think kindly of others as well.

So I’m starting my summer right and saying without apology to you and me, Girl, you look good! Keep going.