Politics of the Swimsuit

This morning, a 2014 piece by Jessica Turner titled Moms, Put On that Swimsuit, came across my FB feed. 

Turner’s message to mothers is good and necessary: put away your vanity and body issues & play with your kids at the beach or pool.

No quibbles there. 

My issue with the piece came when Turner started to help women – mothers only – accept their less-than-perfect bodies because the “imperfections” like a soft, stretched belly and larger thighs are the leftover evidence of pregnancy and childbirth.

Ouch. I hate articles like that because they fail to acknowledge the experience of women who build their families without the physical acts of pregnancy or childbirth. So even though I am a mother, my extra pounds are just fat? I have no justification for it according to Turner.

I’m probably reading way too much into her piece and allowing my own history to influence my reaction, but it is difficult in a society in which conversations about motherhood are dominated by the physical parts.

And what about non-mothers? The child-free? Are they supposed to have perfect bodies since they weren’t ravaged by pregnancy and childbirth?

How about we change the piece to this:

Dear women, you are beautiful and wonderful the way you are. You wear whatever you want at the beach or pool because you are a human being with dignity and deserve to be at the beach or pool regardless of appearance, parental status, income, marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity. You are a human being and that is what matters.

We are much anticipating leaving for our first beach vacation of the summer next weekend. It’s been a long time since I was a size 6 18-year-old who prided herself on being close to model height and weight. I weigh more than I’d like and dread seeing family and friends who knew me when – and I have no excuse for it other than food and age. But I will be rocking my Land’s End tankini with the skirt bottom and I think I will look pretty damn cute! I’ll still be the palest person on the beach, but that’s OK. I’ll slather on copious amounts of sunscreen and build sandcastles with Daniel and play in the water.

Almost Show Time

A month from now, it will all be over.  All the meetings and Facebook conversations.  The tweets.  The texts.  The sponsor soliciting.  Celebrating when your cold call gets a positive response.  Gnashing your teeth in frustration when you are turned down by a potential sponsor or charity who doesn’t get what you are trying to do.

A month from now, these 15 women and men who were brought together due to their heart-felt pieces on motherhood, camaraderie formed, confidences shared, enthusiasm evident, will disperse.

For Raleigh-Durham’s Listen to Your Mother show will be over.

I remember in January as Marty and I bounced venue and charity ideas off of each other, how much time it seemed like we had.  Suddenly it was time for auditions and building our cast and our show.  And now, here we are in the last few–very few—weeks before our show.  It’s time to shift our mindset to publicity, to ensuring we have a full house for our show.  It feels like there are a thousand balls in the air that we are juggling for the show in addition to our “normal” lives of working, parenting and living.  We’re at the detail stage right now: designing ads, posters, programs; thinking of cast gifts; finding an after-party location.

It’s been difficult for me to be as engaged with the process as I would like since work has been crazy just when I need to contribute the most.  I hate feeling like I’m not pulling my weight.

Sometimes my mindset shifts to my old theater days in terms of thinking of the production: need to do this, tech rehearsal, costumes, etc. But then it dawns on me how special our show is, how remarkable it is to be part of the Listen to Your Mother organization.

Our cast is comprised of real women and men with real stories.  These aren’t scripted lines.  They come from the heart.  They are their reality.  The darkest moments.  The highest highs. Painful histories.  Worries.  Doubts.  Appreciation.  Love. Side-splitting humor   I feel honored that Marty and I have been given the opportunity to help bring these stories and these wonderful voices to a wider audience.  I take a step back and am awed and so proud to be able to do this for our community.

Tickets are on sale.  I’ve added a feed of the latest posts on our LTYM site to my sidebar (it’s a bit wonky).  Right now we’re posting cast profiles and posts on our gracious sponsors.  I’d love it if you’d click over and get to know the amazing man and women who will be reading on May 8.