I have gained probably 30 pounds since the very first time I wore a bikini on the internet 3 years ago. Writing a book can do that to you… I keep telling myself. You would think that would mean it’d be even harder to find one that I love and felt comfortable in… but the opposite is true. I can’t stop finding them. I have over 12 bikinis. I don’t even have 12 pairs of underwear. I have more bathing suits that underwear. I have redefined my notion of necessity. (Bikinis, wine opener, pointy tweezers, genie bra, Spotify account, tiny bottle of Frank’s Hot Sauce in my purse.)

I went bathing suit shopping with a few friends the other day, and one of them politely commented that she was surprised I wore bikinis around my kids. She didn’t mean how dare I have the audacity, because it’s 2015 and we don’t body shame anymore. She meant, how on Earth do you contend with kids while wearing a bikini. It’s a fair question, little kids require tons of bending over and running around and blowing inflatable shit up, and a string bikini or thong might not be the most comfortable option for those situations. But neither is a one piece. I don’t like being pulled from the shoulder to my vagina. I love the freedom to get sun on my belly, feeling Andy’s hands around my hips, and not have to pull a cold,  tight bathing suit back up over my body after peeing.

But, the most important reason I wear a bikini is because they make feel beautiful, and that’s addicting. I never had this sense of confidence or entitlement to beauty before 30, and I will be damned if I don’t gulp down every second of it.

I have bikinis that makes me feel like Julie Newmar. I have bikinis that make for epic cannonballs into the pool with the kids. I even have bikinis that go perfectly under the pair of distressed overalls I toss on after swimming in the pond and gathering around the bonfire. These are the bikinis I’m going to show you today. (More bathing suit posts to come, trust me. This is how I justify all the UPS boxes on our porch. I need these clothes, Andy, for the good of women everywhere!)

PLUS SIZE Bikini2015

THE BONFIRE. Finally, Lands’ End is making a plus size bikini. And the best part, it’s not a cartoon version of a bikini, it’s a legit styled and fitted bikini. So many plus size brands rushing out curve-friendly bikinis are making some huge mistakes. 1. They aren’t supportive. 2. They skew old and tacky. 3. They fit like maternity bathing suits. Fail, fail, fail. As a plus size woman I want the same kind of bathing suit non-plus size women are wearing, and I want it to make my body look just as attractive and youthful as theirs does. This navy striped suit fits the bill all around. It fits great, the top is a bra my husband would actually find me attractive in, and the bottoms cover my butt which, third to my arms and my thighs, is where I carry all my weight. This is my go-to summer BBQ bathing suit.

Top: Beach Living Scoop Bikini Top, size 16W, Lands’ End
Bottom: Beach Living Midwest Bikini Bottom, size 16W, Lands’ End

THE CANNONBALL. This is my favorite suit of the summer. Again, it’s a Land’s End plus size bikini, but I mixed it up and purchased separates. Here’s a great summer tip for you, buy this black bikini top, and then spend the whole summer buying super cute bottoms, even if they are cheap, because this supportive top is going to last for years and is crazy versatile. I cannot say enough about how comfortable and cute this top is. And the mid-rise bottoms are great because they don’t painfully cut into my skin since I’m hourglass and my hips begin to bang out right around where waistbands usually hit me. Plus, they are pretty adjustable, I can wear them lower and the ruching hides trouble areas, or I can pull them up high for more coverage.

Top: Beach Living Scoop Bikini Top, size 16W, Lands’ End
Similar Bottom Can Be Found: Beach Living Mid-Rise Bottom, size 18, Lands’ End

THE JULIE NEWMAR. There is absolutely nothing practical about this suit. Nothing. In fact, next to harem pants and wedge sneakers, this is the most impractical thing I own. I saw it online and was like, oh hey, JLo probably has this, so sure, I will buy it. First, it’s very sexy. You can’t swim in it, or move, really, because the stomach straps aren’t in any way secure, but if you are going to Vegas or a romantic trip away and your goal is to look like a sex kitten laying out next to the pool, this is the bathing suit for you. The down side is that it’s kinda a giant ball of smoke and mirrors. The straps on the top tie loosely around you and they aren’t very thick. I found myself pulling them back into place quite a bit. The bottoms, however, are pretty amazing. I love the low cut outs on the sides showing off my (very) low hips. Reminder: wax! I will probably end up wearing these black bottoms with the black top from Lands’ End, and still feel very ginger JLo about the whole thing.

Top: GabiFresh City Slicker Wrap Bikini Top, size 18DD, Swimsuits For All
Bottom: GabiFresh City Slicker Bottom, size 18, Swimsuits For All

This is my body in a bikini. I have dimples and stretch marks and scars and all the other things I’m not supposed to be showing off, and I really couldn’t be happier about any of it. I don’t want to talk to you about your body in a bathing suit compared to mine because then neither of us wins. I want to talk to you about your body in a bathing suit because I’m showing you mine. So let’s talk. It’s almost summer and I’d hate to see you miss another year of memories because of some silly spandex.

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