I saw this picture posted on a friend's Facebook and instantly had to click to see what the story was all about.  It's definitely not the usual bikini glamor shot you would see and I was curious what it might be about.  Then I got rocked by the note that came with it:

"This is an open letter to the 2 guys and 1 girl who decided to skip work today...where they were building a house, but instead decided to come to Alberta Beach to relax in the sun, enjoy the water and some beers.  I'm sorry if my first attempt at sun tanning in a bikini in public in 13 years "grossed you out". I'm sorry that my stomach isn't flat and tight. I'm sorry that my belly is covered in stretch marks. I'm NOT sorry that my body has housed, grown, protected, birthed and nurtured FIVE fabulous, healthy, intelligent and wonderful human beings. I'm sorry if my 33 year old, 125 lb body offended you so much that you felt that pointing, laughing, and pretending to kick me. But I'll have you know that as I looked at your 'perfect' young bodies, I could only think to myself "what great and amazing feat has YOUR body done?". I'll also have you know that I held my head high, unflinching as you mocked me, pretending that what you said and did had no effect on me; but I cried in the car on the drive home. Thanks for ruining my day. It's people like you who make this world an ugly hateful place. I can't help but feel sorry for the women who will one day bear your children and become "gross" in your eyes as their bodies change during the miraculous process of pregnancy. I can only hope that one day you'll realize that my battle scars are something to be proud of, not ashamed of."

The story that came with this brave posting made me realize once again, that women face incredible pressure to "look right" that men do not.  It's perhaps most profound at the beach or in a bathing suit...where you are a little more physically vulnerable.

I hate that she cried on the way home.  I have felt self-conscious - as a man - in a bathing suit before - realizing that my extra pounds and unique shade of pale make me stand out a little bit from the throngs of hard-body models who seem to have stepped out of the pages of a calendar and on to the beach where I vacation every time I've been at the coast.  At the same time, I quickly got over it, and went about relaxing.

Over time, as I've gotten older, I haven't worried about it as much (maybe I should worry more...that's another blog altogether), but I know my wife always feels like she doesn't look good enough.  It drives me crazy because nothing I can say makes her feel better.  I understand that our "imperfections" are often not our most physically appealing traits, but we have to get over ourselves if we cause someone to feel so self conscious that they can only relax at the beach if they are perfect.  That standard is crazy and unfair.

I'm glad she was brave enough to share the photo and the letter...and for the reminder.

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