By Kellie Commons Special to OnMilwaukee Published Jul 26, 2020 at 11:02 AM

During Safer at Home, a lot of people were hunkered down, battling with sourdough starters and eating their anxiety. There was a general rumble that this year’s swimsuit season would hit different than most, thanks to those pandemic pounds. We’re freer to move around now, and we skipped the gentle early summer and went straight to blazing hot.

While this weather is perfect for hitting the pool or firing up the sprinkler after being cooped up in the house for so long, I know plenty of moms (and probably teen girls, too!) are worried about swimsuit season after our extra long hibernation.

But I’ve got a sure-fire method for getting your body beach-ready in no time.

Take off your clothes, and put a swimsuit on. Ignore the size tag. Buy one that doesn’t crawl up in a weird spot or pinch you. Walk out of the house. Have fun in the sun. Probably wear sunscreen.

I don’t remember seeing my mom in a swimming suit as a kid. I remember a lot of crash dieting and fat-free bakery and short-lived fad workouts, and shame about her pants size and food guilt, but no swimsuits. I was reluctant to wear a swimsuit, too, especially as a teenager, and would not have been caught dead in a bikini as I edged into my twenties. I was too aware of what was there to lose, what was ugly or extra. It crept to include dread about shorts and sleeveless shirts, side boob and back fat. I spent too many years trying to find the swimsuit or summer clothes that hid the most and minimized my "problem areas."

Over the years, I tried to hide my insecurity while not passing it on to my daughter. That’s exactly as hard as it sounds. I’d avoid the pool or stay dressed, cover my suit with a shirt whenever I could, or track down some skirted swim costume kind of thing that promised to camouflage all the gross parts. I definitely had zero fun anytime a swimsuit was involved, and spent the time uncomfortable and anxious about what people were thinking. I would shift and angle in my beach chair to keep everything as lifted and flexed as possible. I’d look around and envy people of all shapes and sizes who looked confident and were having fun in tiny swimsuits, getting sun on their bellies, and wondered how to get that for myself, to guarantee it for my daughter.

And it occurred to me that it’s simple. They had decided to do it. Whether they’d overcome shame and guilt themselves to do it, I couldn’t say, but I could see them out there, splashing around and tanning and enjoying the summer because they’d chosen that freedom.

So I decided to choose it, too. It’s not easy, but it’s simple. I started to find suits that didn’t cover me all the way. I stopped looking at the size and worrying that it was "too big" if it felt right on my body. I chose to stop punishing myself with dread and shame because I’m not little and toned. I have cellulite, and I’ve eaten ice cream everyday for the last 10 weeks.

But I wear the swimsuit. I make my body a bikini body by putting a bikini on my body. Sometimes it’s scary, and I feel the guilt and shame that is "supposed" to come along with baring your "flaws" to the whole neighborhood. But my daughter knows the reason I sometimes dread the pool is the water slide, not the wardrobe.

Kellie Commons Special to OnMilwaukee

Kellie has loved Milwaukee since before loving Milwaukee was cool, and knew this was the place to settle down and raise a family. She’s got an opinion about almost everything and loves to pick up new fun facts.  Kellie keeps busy as the Group HR Manager for Saz’s Hospitality Group, a hometown favorite, by teaching at Mount Mary, getting involved in her community and trying to play catchup on her reading pile, though she’ll never say no to a nap. Most days, she’s also trying to talk herself out of or into running another half marathon. Kellie lives in Wauwatosa with her partner Rob, who is an owner of Vennture Brew Co, and her daughter Anna.