notquiteold

Gracefully Aging – With Resistance

Swimsuits. Seriously.

I described my last post – Sharing Swimsuit Secrets – as serious. But as usual, it was silly.

However, I do have something serious I want to say on the subject. There will be silly stuff in here – I can’t help myself – but actually, this is one of the most earnest little essays I’ve ever written.

Several years ago, my husband and I threw ourselves a party. We had spent a good portion of our married life building our dream house, and we wanted to share it with everyone we ever met. So we dragged out our old wedding invitation list, added it to our Christmas card list, and had a huge summer picnic.

In our backyard we have a hot tub. It’s a really nice hot tub  (it sort of fell into our tired, house-building little laps), and it can accommodate about a dozen relaxing bodies.

So on our invitations to our picnic, I reminded everyone that we have this fabulous hot tub – and that they should all bring their bathing suits.

But no one did.

I asked my husband’s cousin why she didn’t bring her swimsuit, and she said, “It’s too embarrassing at my age to be seen in my bathing suit.” And my other friends and relatives all nodded emphatically.

Let’s flashback even further.

Eighteen years ago, my husband and I went on a vacation to Cancun. It was sort of a delayed honeymoon, as we didn’t have much money when we got married a few years earlier. Mexico was amazing: Beautiful beaches, fabulous food, wonderful weather.

It was truly a perfect vacation.

Until I got home and had my photographs developed. (Yeah, this was before digital. You couldn’t see whether you had a good time or not until you got home.)

Oh my God, I was so fat.

My thighs were hideous.

I hid the photos. (I hid them really well…I still can’t find them.)

But here’s what I learned in the subsequent years:  That I would give anything now to look like I did back then. I wasn’t hideous. I was gorgeous.

Because it was who I was then.

And I’m gorgeous right now, because this is where I am now.

To my dear cousin who’s embarrassed to be seen in her bathing suit, I say:

“Right now is the best you will ever look. Because tomorrow, you’ll be older.”

I’ve been working very hard lately to get fit and look young.  But however successful I am, I’ll never look 21. Or ever 41.  I’m 61. And this is the youngest I will be. Tomorrow I’ll be older.

So even if you are not fit and not trying to be:  Here’s my serious advice.

Put on your swimsuit anyway.

Stroll on the beach. Lounge by the hotel pool. Get in that hot tub.

Enjoy the fact that you are the youngest and most beautiful you’ll ever be.  Right this moment.

You’ll never be younger.

Enjoy your beauty.

Good … Better … Best?

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42 Comments

  1. I agree wholeheartedly with your message (though I haven’t put on a swimsuit in about a decade), but let’s not forget that many women become more beautiful as they age. So, while we’re always getting older, our beauty is not necessarily declining.

  2. Bonnie

    Having little kids forces you to wear a swimsuit because you gotta get in the pool with them…

    • I think you should get into the pool even when you’re 80.

  3. Excellent advice! It reminds me of a 4th of July party I attended a couple of years ago that also had a wear your swimsuit we have a pool message on the invite. I was the only adult who wore a swimsuit so I was the only adult beating the heat and humidity in the pool with the kids! And it also reminds me of the message I like to write in birthday cards: You may be older than you’ve ever been before, but you’re also younger than you’ll ever be again – enjoy the moment!

  4. nikkix2

    So true and words to live by,,,thank you :)

  5. I really enjoy your posts, and this one is particularly true. Thanks for sharing.

  6. good advice – it is taking it that will be the hard part

    • Oh, I know! I am so self-conscious…I truly fear looking like an old lady. But I love the beach. I go anyway. No one (but me) is taking a measuring tape to my thighs.

  7. A timely and important message, thank you! I say we have to cultivate an appreciation for who we are right at this moment. I shudder when I think of how critical I was of myself at thirty…now I wish I had that energy, strength and hair!

    • My inspiration was a quote I read this week. It’s very strange to put Henry Kissinger and Swimsuits together, but here’s something that really got to me:

      “Accept everything about yourself – I mean everything. You are you and that is the beginning and the end – no apologies, no regrets.” — Henry Kissinger

  8. Dang it….now I have to buy a swimsuit.

    I have not bought a swimsuit in…almost a decade? Before I was married?

    Considering what you have stated, I think a tankini is the way to go. I will post some pictures to you when I finally get it.

  9. Michelle Gillies

    I know you are right and I envy anyone who can follow through, but my swim suit is well hidden for now.

  10. I loved this post, Nancy! You’re so right that it’s not until we look back we realize how much energy we’re wasting. Sign me up for that hot tub, too; it sounds DIVINE!

    P.S. – Your line about not knowing whether you had a good vacation until you got home (and developed the pictures) cracked me up!

  11. Thank you for reminding us! You are so right! I am reminded of a trip to Hawaii my husband and I took with his family before we got married. There were people on the trip of all ages and sizes , including my two young soon-to-be step-sons and my soon to be not quite elderly in-laws. I was in my early 30s and had never had children. And I basically refused to be photographed in my swim suit. I spent much of the trip hiding under sarongs and posing behind lounge furniture. My husband thought I was crazy. Exactly as you have described, I know would kill to look like that again. I looked great, if not complete perfection. Now I know I was crazy! Thank you for reminding me
    Not to waste any more of my life being crazy!

  12. I had a similar post-vacation shock after we went to Hawaii in 2006 (I was still using film–I’m a late adopter), and those pictures kicked me into getting fitter and thinner. I work hard to stay that way. But fat or thin, I’ve always loved the water and swimming and playing with my kids and grandkids in whatever body of water is available. I wouldn’t give that up even if I ever got heavy again. I was a chubby kid and my favorite hangout in the summer was the municipal pool, so I guess my love of the water overcomes self-conciousness about my body.

  13. midlifemeg

    Very, very valuable perspective. It doesn’t matter how old you are; it’s always true. I tell my 16 year old daughter the same thing.

    I am so glad I found you at this phase in my life. I just turned forty and I am afraid of aging. The only thing that mitigates the fear is knowing great women who are older than me. Seems silly but your posts are reassuring to me.

    • It’s not silly. I am reassured by my mother – who’s 88 – and still wants to look her best. She asked me whether self-tanner might help her white, veined shins now that the warm weather is coming. She wants to look nice, but damn if she will wear pantyhose in the heat. Now that’s the attitude I’m going for!

  14. I’m right there with you…trying to get in shape while recognizing that it doesn’t get better than it already is. And all in all, it’s pretty damn good. That said, you’ll never catch me in a bikini again – I’m not prepared to frighten the world – but a one piece? Might as well – we don’t get this summer back again.. Great post as always!

  15. aw! thanks for a really great post, nancy – with a great message. you are right and i whole heartedly agree.

  16. So very true yet I hate wearing a swimsuit and I’m not really that big. I remember my mother-in-law, who had a beachhouse in NJ ALWAYS wore pantyhose or knee highs or some sort of leg stockings to cover her varicose veins. I never saw her in a swimsuit or in the water. Now my father-in-law was another story. Funny thing is, he had varicose veins too but didn’t give a fig.

    • I’m beginning to get those red splotches of spider veins. But I think the sun will do them good – a little tan covers a lot of sins. And of top of that… the cold ocean water is sure to shrink them. I’m all set!

      • That is certainly better than panty hose at the shore!

  17. Beautiful! And I love you put in a quote by Henry Kissinger.
    If I don’t look in the mirror (or look without my glasses) I can wear my swimming suit somewhat comfortably.

    • There are no mirrors at the beach! Enjoy!

  18. Oh, I know that in theory this is true. But as one of the largest women I know, I have not worn shorts or a swimsuit in probably 20 years. I have just never been able to feel comfortable-too exposed. I do agree that I would kill to look like I did at 20, and I thought I was so fat back then.

  19. Amazing and wonderful advice. Rock on!

  20. This is sooo true. I let a friend convince me to have pictures taken while I was pregnant. When I looked at the pictures initially all I could see was my double chin and fat ankles. Now I see lovele creamy skin, the joy on my youthful face for the gift I was about to receive ( the ankles still look swollen), and I see that I was beautiful.

  21. Love this post, I will be re-posting it. You are correct, even if we’re not happy with who we are, we’re not getting any younger.

  22. Well written, and your point came across crystal clear! I’ve had that experience of looking back at photos, which at the time I thought were horrendous, then years later looking at them and wondering what I thought was so terrible! Yes. We’re never going to be younger, and, most likely, will never look better than today!

  23. Loved this post. A timely reminder! I used to wonder, as a kid, what my grandma meant when she would say, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”. I understand now, as an adult, how time really does fly. And it’s all about NOW. Come summer, I’m buying a new swimsuit!!

  24. My step-mother was tall and thin but hated her body, told me she hadn’t been in shorts or a swim suit for two decades. Then she married my dad, who was improper in the extreme and loved her butt and boobs (his words). They married later in life (their early 60’s) and did lots of PDA, which initially disturbed all of their children more than mildly.

    My dad took my step-mother on wild trips around the world. Fabulous cruises, fabulous beaches; this required shorts and swimsuits. They took lots of pictures which we, their children poured over when they got home. We never noticed anything but what a great time they had. Now that they have both passed we are so grateful for all those pictures and the twenty years they had together.

    Wonderful message.

  25. I think that a song by toby keith says it all “i’m not as good as i once was, but i’m as good once as i ever was” :), thanks MJ

  26. Oh so well said!!!! Get the swimsuit on and get in that jacuzzi!!!! Love your attitude!

  27. Yep, you hit the nail on the head. Good, better, best! I haven’t worn one in 20 years and as time goes on, there is less chance by the day but that’s just me. Wonderful post, though.

  28. Thanks for helping me to remember ;).

  29. I took a gander not too long ago at some photos of myself in swimwear when I was about 20 and again at about 30, when I thought I had the ‘best’ figure in a bathing suit – and I ended up choking back sobs of either laughter or dismay (I’m not sure which). I was painfully thin (about 100 pounds) at 20 and only slightly less so at 30. I’ve never had much of a waist and I had almost no chest or hips back then, either. For about 10 years (45 – 55), I don’t even think I put on a suit. Now that I’m approaching 60, however, I’ve realized that I can FINALLY ‘fill out’ a bathing suit (a little too well in places, perhaps, but who cares!?!?!?) and I’ve started going to the beach at least once a week in the summer. I’ve stopped worrying about who might see me or what they might think. There are other “much older” women on the beach who flaunt what they’ve got (even if its wrinkled and sagging) in bikinis. God love them – I want to be just like that when I reach 70 or 80 (or, heck, even 90!)

  30. Beautiful essay.

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  1. Swimsuits | followingfunny
  2. Taking My Own Advice « notquiteold

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