Summertime and the livin’ is easy . . . except for any woman who feels self-conscious in a swim suit. I spent the last five days with my family at a resort in Eastern Washington. What a great place, sun, gorgeous views, and a huge swimming pool with a kiddie pool for my four year old. We rented a small  house in a resort of condos, so we had our own place with an incredible kitchen, flat screen TV, Disney movies for the kids, and central air. We relaxed, slept well and were able to escape inside after the 100+ degree weather got to be too much out of doors. We all loved it. My husband golfed, I napped and read and swam laps, the kids swam and played. And, there was the added bonus of being out of cell phone range.  

And then there were the “other” moms at the pool. The stay-at-homes with their kids and girlfriends and girlfriends’ kids and their incessant complaining about their bodies—all bikini-clad, attractive and thin—as I sat by the pool and watched and listened and tried not to watch and listen lest I get caught up in their ridiculous mania. And this mania is one that seems to plague women no matter their body size. Mind you, I didn’t overhear any of the “normal” women complaining. Out loud. And by normal I mean women with some body fat, women who are just above or just below the average American woman’s body size—a 14. That’s right girls. The average size of an American woman is a size 14. We can’t complain out loud because we see these bikini women and then we see ourselves. We see our normal, size 8 or 10 or 12 selves with our stretch marks and our breasts that have nursed children and lived multiple decades and we don’t look like an air-brushed magazine photo. Because it’s not real.

I believe these women know they look great, i.e., thin and how a woman “should” look if she wears a bikini, and yet they are still insecure.  It’s not OK to be OK with your body. Their flaws as they see them are so minute, so insignificant relative to the rest of the female world, that they can thus draw attention to them.  At one point, I wanted to go over and say, “Excuse me, do you see me here in my one-piece and my non-rock hard stomach? Do you hear yourselves? Your daughters hear you. Do you get that what you say affects others?” But, of course, I didn’t. Instead, I tried to tune them out and to tune in to the joy in my children’s eyes; the ecstacy in their giggles; the cool of the water as my four year old clung to my back and we swam and played; the heat on my skin; the glorious views; the realization that I have everything I have ever wanted, and then some.

I don’t want to hear it anymore from the bikini women. Find something else to be worried about. Or, better yet, look at your life and all of your blessings and stop worrying about something as superficial as your body size and shape. And, if you must spend your energy this way, do so quietly, and don’t infect your children.

I will take my own advice and do the same. There is a cool summer breeze as I write this. My children sleep downstairs; my husband is here and we are home after a vacation filled with joy, love, play and laughter. At one point during our stay, I took a deep breath, took it all in and tears came to my eyes. I remember dreaming of this. I wanted this, a family, a closeness like this. My younger son was asleep, crashed after a full day of swimming and “scuba-diving” in the kiddie pool. My older son was reading on the couch next to me. My husband sat nearby and I had just started a new book. We were quiet and together and happy and safe. And when you have that, when you have so much that is deep and full, bikinis don’t matter, and the livin’ is easy.


  1. How irritating to have your vacation pool time sullied by a chorus of complaining women you believe ought to be thankful for their wealth and above average good looks.

    Next time, rather than stewing in your lounge chair, ask them to keep the complaining down so others can recline in peace. Then, if they continue in their loud complaining tell them you’ve videotaped their conversation and are posting it on the net. Clearly, if it’s so important the whole pool must hear about it then shouldn’t the whole world know too.

    I’d video you telling them you’re posting it, too. You know, for good measure – you might remind them (I’m sure you’re aware of this) that right at this moment – now- millions of people are dying of starvation, and that The Hunger Project would be thrilled to have their help.


  2. jennykanevsky says:

    Joel, thank you so much for reading and for commenting. I didn’t stew too much, rather the “gift” they gave me was that of perspective. I am so lucky to have what I do, and to be able to appreciate it. And, of course, so many have nothing, or not enough. Thank you for that reminder.


  3. I put a stop to it in my workplace. After months of putting up with it, I DID say “Excuse me, but since I actually AM fat, I’d appreciate it if you’d stop standing right in front of my desk while talking about how disgusting that is. It’s rude.” That worked.

    I think they don’t understand how I can not hate myself. Would I like to be in the sort of shape I was when younger? Sure. Is not being that a good reason to hate myself? I don’t think so.


    • Jenny Kanevsky says:

      Rebecca, thank you for posting this. I am inspired to start doing more than just changing the subject or looking the other way (or “listening” the other way) in the future. Not just for myself. And, I agree with you. Being young and in shape was nice. Being wiser and where I am now, not even the same ballpark.


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