Mermaid Summer


beach ball

Well, it’s officially summer. I know this because I have received twenty catalogues in the last month whose covers feature gloriously happy women wearing swim suits. I bet you missed the most important part of that sentence. I’ll run it by you again. Featuring happy women wearing swim suits.

You think I’m going to moan and whine about the awful pressure to get your jiggly parts firmed up to be trotted out at the community pool. Nope. Wrong. So very wrong. I recognize that a lot of people are nowhere near comfortable in their own bodies. A lot of people would rather eat a bowl of dirt than be seen in a bathing suit. I hope to change that.

During my adult life, I have worn swim suits ranging from a tiny size six to a robust size 28 and everything in between. Right now, I’m hovering around a size 20 and I’m totally cool with that. My point is that no matter what size I am, I have never been the thinnest chick at the beach and I’m never the fattest one either. I’m just part of the crowd that comes to the sea to have fun. We’re there to play with friends and family. We’re there to eat boardwalk fries and get sand in awkward places. On that note, I once complained to a friend about my thighs getting chafed from sand. She said, and this answer tells you everything you need to know about this woman, “Awww, my thighs rubbing just means I’m becoming a mermaid. I can’t wait.”

I know some of you are thinking, “But what if someone says something mean about me? I’ll just die!” No, you won’t. Here’s some perspective. I had more dim-witted comments slung my way when I wore a size six bikini then I do now. Being thin doesn’t protect you. Being slim doesn’t make stupidity dissipate. There is no force field for assholery. Some people are simply hateful and your size really doesn’t have much to do with that. Their problem, not yours.

When I was single, I used to consider taunts a useful early warning indicator. Thank you for publicly announcing to every female out here that you are undateable. Thanks dude, for saving us the time and trouble of getting to know you before realizing that you’re a huge waste of oxygen. We all, every last woman out here, appreciate the public service announcement. Very thoughtful of you to warn us off by yelling something repugnant in our presence. Bravo. 

Now that I’m married, anything said to me by a stranger means even less than zero. I’m married. I don’t need to evaluate mates. They’re not a blip on my radar. So someone says something they think is cutting. Puh-lease. I don’t know you. I don’t want to know you. I will never see you again. You and your opinions can go pound sand. Really.

The last time someone threw what they thought was razor-edged repartee my way, they had a mullet, significantly less than 32 teeth, and a tee shirt that read, “As long as I have a face, you have a place to sit.” Uh huh. You sir, have stung me to the core. Not.

I want to reiterate that it is a very low probability that anyone will pay attention to you at all. There’s just too much to do, too much to see, too many people. If they do, I recommend giving the unexpected response. Something insulting is said. React with glee. Shout “Bingo! I win!” Loudly thank the guy for helping you win Beach Bastard Bingo. Surprise them. Bullies count on you reacting a certain way to make them feel good about being an ignorant thug. Don’t do it.

Be loud, be proud, be joyful. Flat-chested, hairy, roly-poly, stick-skinny, muscle-bound, wrinkly, or bald, everyone gets a turn to have fun. If a person has not earned the right to sit at your kitchen table for supper, their opinion means less than the sand beneath your flip-flops.

You must never let anxiety of who might say what keep you from throwing on a swim suit and enjoying the day with your family. Go play with your kids at the pool. Hang with your friends at the beach. Stroll the boardwalk with your sweetie. Be with the people who love you. Make memories. Live. Summers were invented for fun and games. Don’t shortchange yourself. Be as happy as a paid model on a swim suit catalogue.

Molly Dugger Brennan

You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anyone.

~  Maya Angelou


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