I ventured into the abyss of Lycra and underwires twice this year already. It’s crazy out there. Everywhere women, wandering the aisles to find the last size 10 Miracle Suit or untangle the mess of straps and hangers to pull out the size L bikini bottoms to go with the only M halter style top left in slimming black. I swear I heard muffled sobs coming from one dressing room followed by an expletive or two. One woman almost called 9-1-1 after being unable to extract herself from the contraption she had wriggled into (this may or may not have been me).
Yes, ladies, Bathing Suit Shopping Season is upon us, unless of course, you were lucky enough to find a decent suit last year to tide you over. My current swimsuit situation is as follows: one very cute brown tankini that mostly contains me, but is also incredibly faded AND a maroon one-piece with a bandeau style halter top that causes a searing headache from the halter being tied too tight, which is needed for, you guessed it, containment. So, in light of my current dilemma, I will once again venture into the abyss to keep searching next week.

Here is my proposal, and I am telling you, Dillards or Target or whatever retailer decides to catch on would rake in a fortune if they followed my idea:

What we need is Bathing Suit Shopping Support Groups! For real. Group women together based on sizes and life stages. The “never given births” have differing issues than the “had two babies and over 40’s” but let’s face it- ALL women could use a cheering section while going through this yearly ordeal. The store would turn off all the overhead fluorescent lighting, as we all know it makes the most lovely complexion look garish, and replace them with lamps. Also, offering an assortment of snacks and perhaps a little wine, to take the edge off, would be delightful.

But here is where I think my idea goes from clever to genius: when we emerge from a dressing room in a potential suit, and ask “does this make my thighs looks fat/my butt look big/my middle look too roly-poly?” the resounding answer from your own personal support group is “WHO CARES?”

Because you know what we don’t need? A bunch of false compliments, or distorted reality. We don’t need to find the One Suit to Rule Them All. We don’t need to believe more flattering things about our bodies- we need to believe different things about our worth. We need an altered perspective on the importance we place on how we look! So let me say it to you sisters- YOU ARE MORE THAN YOUR BODY!

Your worth is not based on how well you rock a bikini! I don’t care what society, your husband, your boyfriend or your friends think- God created you as he wanted you to be. He gave you a body to take care of, to use for loving and serving others and to enjoy. None of us are perfect stewards of any gift God gives us, and if you haven’t taken care of your body in the way you think is responsible, you can work on it, but you don’t have to hide in shame! And let’s face it, a lot of what we aren’t happy with are parts we can’t change anyway, and represent no failure on our parts.

I don’t care what society, your husband, your boyfriend or your friends think- God created you as he wanted you to be. He gave you a body to take care of, to use for loving and serving others and to enjoy. None of us are perfect stewards of any gift God gives us, and if you haven’t taken care of your body in the way you think is responsible, you can work on it, but you don’t have to hide in shame! And let’s face it, a lot of what we aren’t happy with are parts we can’t change anyway, and represent no failure on our parts.

So if you need to go shopping over the next week, grab a couple of women friends, invade the dressing room and tell each other the truth: how you look is not all that important- who you ARE in Christ is what matters. And you are lovely- really, you are. It is impossible for a creation of the King to not contain some piece of His image, some reflection of His love and goodness. And that makes you more beautiful to behold than “a perfect 10” will ever be.