This article originally appeared in Chicago Tribune:
The battle of beach-body memes is exhausting. Every year, its the same story:
An ad features a photo of some bikini-clad woman, sucking in her gut, working the camera angle and looking beach-body ready thanks to advertised workouts/shakes/diet/etc.
An irritated consumer refutes the ad with comic relief, such as a naked chubby baby who is also rocking her beach body, or a meme asserting that to be bikini-body-ready, just put a bikini on your body.
Personally, I prefer the latter. But what I’d really love is if we could all just stop. Stop talking about how we look in our swimsuits. Not because we ought to be body positive. Not because we’re making a statement. But because we all have better things to do than talk about swimwear.
It’s funny: I remember spending summers during my college years lying out, determined to turn my body the perfect shade of bronze. I’d pass on going for a swim or getting ice cream with friends because those things were not directly beneficial to my aesthetic goals of a flat stomach and a tan.
In some ways, motherhood has forced me to get over it. Because when you’re trying to get your swimsuit on before your kid sprays sunscreen in his brother’s eyes, there’s no time to assess your side profile in the locker room mirror. And because later when you’re holding a wriggly toddler and being whacked with a pool noodle, all that matters is that your swimsuit stays put.
But also, my kids simply remind me that summer is filled with much too much important stuff to do. So rather than waste any more precious time on the aforementioned topic, I suggest you:
Go on a bike ride, swim at the beach, collect seashells, blow bubbles, teach your child to swim, dive in a pool, swim laps, go out for ice cream, play at the park, play mini golf, climb a tree, have a barbecue, drink a cold beer with friends, run through the sprinkler, make fresh-squeezed lemonade, help your kids run a lemonade stand, make smoothies, go strawberry picking, go to an outdoor concert, dance, skip, jump rope, play beach volleyball, run on the beach, walk on the beach, have a water balloon fight, have a squirt gun fight, read a book, relax under a tree, take a nap outside, make your own cold brew coffee, have a picnic, play tennis, watch the sunrise, watch the sunset, go on a boat ride, go kayaking, skip rocks, climb rocks, play at a splash pad, meditate, go on a road trip, go camping, build a campfire, toast marshmallows, explore your neighborhood, explore a new neighborhood, be a tourist in your own city, plant a garden, pick wildflowers, go fishing, wade in a creek, catch frogs, do the monkey bars, swing on a swing, ride a roller coaster, play tag with your kids, go to a baseball game, visit a water park, walk barefoot in the grass, climb a fence, nap in a hammock, shop at the farmers market, catch fireflies, go to a fair, float on a raft, make a flower crown, build a birdhouse, go to the zoo, play hopscotch, chase down the ice cream truck, go to the movies, go to a drive-in movie, get caught in the rain, splash in a puddle, do an adventure race, run a 5k, swim in open water, build a sandcastle, go hiking, climb the sand dunes, have a block party, eat watermelon slices, daydream, stargaze, visit a museum, go to the batting cages, decorate with sidewalk chalk, make homemade Popsicles, watch fireworks, do sparklers, dig in the dirt for worms, go to a parade, make your own slip n slide in the backyard, make your own obstacle course, roll down a hill, write a letter to a friend, go out dancing, eat at an outdoor cafe, have a garage sale, go garage sale shopping, go to a flea market, drive with all the windows down, have a car wash, play in a backyard kiddie pool, go on a scavenger hunt, go to a carnival, give a piggyback ride, make a scrapbook, hug somebody.
Have a wonderful summer!