I’m probably not the right person to discuss this, considering I’m a Victoria’s Secret bikini-obsessed mother of four. My body might not be perfect after having four kids, but it’s pretty great thanks to a healthy diet and yoga – and chasing four kids around – so I feel that while I’ve still got it, I’m not going to be ashamed of it. That said, I don’t – in all honesty – feel that there should be ‘rules’ associated with swimsuits simply because a woman is a mother, a certain age or a certain weight. I feel that all women are free to wear what they like, what makes them feel good and what they consider comfortable for their body type. I, for one, will not wear a bikini bottom that ties along the sides; I don’t feel comfortable. I also won’t wear a thong – I don’t feel comfortable.
I don’t feel that any of us have the right to tell other women what they can and cannot wear to the beach, because it is nothing short of hypocritical. For example, when I wear my VS cheekies (sort of a ruffled bikini bottom) with a bandeau top that has three straps that connect in the front and center middle and my kids are not with me, I receive compliments on my suit. When I wear the same one with my kids present, I receive a lot of dirty looks and “Boy, you’re brave to wear something without straps with kids around,” so I know that the hypocrisy goes two ways. Nothing I do or wear is going to please everyone. When I wear heels with my kids with me, people tell me I’m not being safe or they assume I’m more concerned with my outward appearance than my kids. When I flip-flop it up, no one says a word.
It’s all about perception. So here’s the deal; I don’t think there is ‘mom’ bikini etiquette, but I do think there is basic human decency etiquette as far as dressing for the pool or beach goes; and it’s for all women. These rules of etiquette are for moms, women who have no kids, stepmoms, grandmothers, women who are young, women who are old, women who are in-between, women who are thin, women who are curvy and everyone in between that is a woman. Want to hear them?
Pick a suit that fits
It’s a simple solution to so many issues; don’t buy it if it does not fit. If the suit is too large, you’re going to be uncomfortable and it’s not going to look good. If it’s too small, you’re going to have the same issues. Choose a suit that fits well, and it doesn’t matter how old you are or how many kids you have; it will look good.
Pick a flattering cut
Not all styles fit all women in a flattering manner. For example, a triangle top is not a good look on me, so I avoid it. All it does it make my already barely-there chest look even smaller, and I look silly. My aunt, who is 12 years older than me and the same size on the bottom and everywhere else, on the other hand, was actually blessed with breasts of a very large size, unlike me, who she refers to as her niece with the chest of a 12-year-old boy (she’s so sweet, right?). She would never even consider wearing the bandeau tops I favor with the size of her considerable assets; she’d look ridiculous and she’d have no support. So she avoids the look. A flattering cut is essential if you want to look good in a swimsuit.
Consider who is with you
What I like to consider when I choose my swimsuit for any particular outing is who is with me. If I have my 16-month-old twins, I’ll choose a top that has straps just so that they have a difficult time accidentally pulling them off of me. If the kids aren’t with us, I’ll wear my favored strapless tops. This is a personal decision, of course, but I feel that you do have to consider your kids when you’re putting on a bikini and looking to keep your lady parts where they need to go.
Consider where you are
If you’re at a topless beach and you want to rock your ladies in the open sun (please remember the sunscreen!), go for it. If you’re at a beach like this and you want to rock a thong bottom, don’t let me stop you. But if you are at a family water park filled with small children and families, perhaps a bottom with some actual coverage would be more appropriate. I’m not saying you cannot wear what you want, but basic etiquette does suggest that you take into consideration things of this nature – it’s just human decency, in my opinion.
Don’t wear it if you can’t rock it
Here’s a rule for all moms; if you don’t feel comfortable in a swimsuit, don’t wear it. We all have our flaws and our self-perceived imperfections, and we cannot let anyone else tell us what we can and cannot wear. If you just had a baby and you’re not comfortable with your body, wear what makes you comfortable. If you have kids and you are proud of what your body looks like right now, rock what makes you feel good, girl.
At the end of the day, we should remember that not everyone looks the same, is built the same or has the same opinion on fashion. We should remember that we are moms – or at least women – and we should build one another up instead of putting one another down. Who are we to tell a mom she can’t wear a bikini because she’s got kids, or has reached a certain age or because she might not be as perfect as she once was when she feels comfortable and proud of her rocking body after having kids and a life? You go girl.
Photo by Sergi Alexander/Getty Images for Frankie’s Bikinis