I was sitting on the pristine beach in Palmachim this morning. The sand was almost deserted and the water was cold and made me feel completely refreshed. I wore a T-shirt over a bathing suit and a sarong.  To my right was a stunning brunette in a simple tank and short shorts over a bathing suit with a one and half year old and 2 month old baby.

She sat in the shade, played lovingly with the children. The baby played on a spread out old quilt. I did not notice whether her arms were toned, or if she’d lost the baby weight. She looked healthy and immensely grateful for a cool day, a shaded pergola and her children.

Every time, I go to the beach as a observant woman, I feel this conflict over what to wear. Every year I promise myself I will not feel ridiculous and just buy a “modest swim suit”. The only place I wear just my bathing suit would be women’s hours at our local pool, or hypocrite that I am, on a deserted beach with my husband in Mexico.  I was shocked, when I recently spoke with a fellow wellness professional and she told me that she is embarrassed to go out in public in her swim suit.

She will not be seen in a bathing suit in front of anyone, because, she believes her tummy is to large. She insisted that while she lives a healthy lifestyle, like she teaches, and works out 4x’s a week minimum, her body is not bathing suit worthy. I was speechless. This woman appeared to me to have the tall naturally slim frame I desired when I was a curvy teenager. How could she not be bathing suit worthy, while I feel great in my suit?

Her suit is heavier than mine. Her suit carries the baggage of being told how stunning her body was for years, and no matter what she does as she ages, has a family, she will never be 18 again. My suit just has to fit me.

I am blessed with three beautiful daughters who each have a completely different body type. One is “the ballerina” small boned and slim, one “the gymnast”  athletic and strong and one”the tango dancer” curvy and fast. I pray that they never have to fit anyone else inside their suits. I want them to know that they are unique now as young children, later as a adolescents and uniquely beautiful as older women. Their beauty comes from the generosity of their actions, their thoughts, their respect for themselves and for others. The idea of body image seems to be seen as how sexually alluring you see your body. How well does your body fit other people’s expectations?

Body image is how well you reflect your soul and your essence into everything you do and everything you are. When we recognize that the convoluted conversation about body image, self-esteem, social pressure, parental pressure, dating pressure can be channeled into a simpler statement.

Do we as women treat our bodies to the health they deserve for carrying around our precious souls, actualizing our gifts and continuing the species. Then we can see that every girl, every woman has beauty within her and deserves to swim alone in her bathing suit.