Dear younger self.
I've seen many blogs written with that or a similar title. I've seen the topic discussed among writers groups. I've heard many country songs along those lines, pouring over regrets and the values the lyricists wished they'd adopted in their younger years or the risks they wished they'd taken. I think any adult can look back and say that there are things they wish they knew then that they know now. I certainly can think of quite a few things, both minor and life-changing. However, the first thing to come to mind when I thought of that question was this: Wear the bikini.
It sounds like a frivolous piece of advice, but it's one that I truly needed to hear back then. I was always a skinny little kid. It continued through high school. I recall that I weighed 98 pounds when I started high school and I was still wearing size 12 and 14 in little girls' clothing. I was just over 100 pounds when I graduated. And, believe it or not, I didn't like the way I looked. I certainly didn't feel like I wanted to show off my body in a two-piece bathing suit. (** a little side note here -- I just read last week about the creation of bikinis. They came about during World War II due to fabric rationing. Pretty interesting, huh?)
Throughout high school, I was very self-conscious and didn't like the way I looked. So many times I looked in the mirror and honestly thought to myself, "I look fat" -- and I was a mere 100 pounds. Of course, 20 years after high school, I realize that I was not fat in the slightest...and if I knew how far beyond 100 pounds I would get in later years, I would have had no problem getting myself to wear a bikini in public. I do recall one bikini I owned, but it wasn't until after high school and only because my sister gave it to me. Besides, it was more like what we would today call a tankini. It didn't expose much stomach and I only wore it a handful of times.
My point is...back then I spent so much time feeling bad about my appearance and my body and there was no need for it. I looked perfectly fine. Today, there's no way I'd be caught dead in a bikini and I wish I'd taken the chance to wear one when I would have looked good in it. Now that I feel more comfortable in my skin and can accept that I have a few rolls brought on by the living I've done and the babies I've carried, wearing a bikini isn't an option now. Send me off to a luxury spa with Jenny Craig to loose a bit and maybe - just maybe I'd change my mind, but I don't foresee that happening. And I'm ok with it. I now realize that although appearance is important, it isn't everything. If people look at you and don't like what they see, it's usually their problem and not yours. And I really wish I would have had that attitude at 16.
I just came across this picture of me -- all 90-something pounds of me...this would have been around the time I started high school. :)