Dear Momma,

It’s that time of year again, isn’t it – the time when you realize swimsuit season is drawing near.

*Gasp*

And you, along with many moms everywhere, become distraught with anxiety at the thought of your imperfections being on display.

That mommy tummy that’s a little too poochy. The thighs that reveal no gap. The muffin top, the underarm wings, the stretch marks, or whatever else you hate about yourself.

All the things you think are so terrible and must mean you don’t have the right to wear a bikini.

NEWS FLASH: You don’t have to look like a model to wear a swimsuit.

What the heck is a “bikini body” anyway? Who gets to decide the standards on this? As far as I know, there are no rules on the matter.

I say a body + a bikini = a bikini body.

YOUR body in a bikini IS a bikini body.

You’ve been through a lot. You may have just had a baby. That takes a long time to recover from….if you’ll ever be “normal” again.

Your body is amazing. Think of all the things it’s done:

Grew a freaking baby from scratch.

Pushed that huge thing out (or endured being cut into) after hours of agonizing pain.”

Produced actual nourishing, life-giving, liquid gold FOOD.

Endured many sleepless nights.

Dealt with roller coaster hormonal changes.

And it’s likely still doing a heck of a lot of crazy awesome impossible things to date.

Your body has worked SO HARD. Don’t insult it by pointing out everything you don’t like about it. How would you feel if you did SO MUCH and everyone just put you down for it?

Get over your damn self!

Because the truth is…

No one else cares.

Not your spouse, not your parents, not your friends, not even that magazine-perfect Barbie lady over there sipping a sugar-loaded lemonade (and somehow escaping all the calories).

And especially not your kids.

They just want to have a good time at the pool or beach. And they want you to be there, whether you have a washboard stomach or pasty white rolls that could get you a job in a Pillsbury ad. (Woo-hoo!)

You are your own worst enemy here. Stop sucking the life out of yourself.

I know, I know. Trying to ignore your inner critic is easier said than done. The thoughts just intrude without warning as you beat yourself up in the mirror. I’m guilty myself. I’m not too excited about my muffin top pudge from all that fudge over the holidays.

But I’ve learned to not dwell on it. And YOU can learn to change how you react. Instead of letting it overtake you, control you, rule you for the season, you can choose to LET IT GO. (Cue Frozen music. Oh no, now it’s stuck in my head. And probably yours. Sorry.)

So maybe you had about 3456 extra cookies this winter and it shows. I don’t know about you, but breastfeeding makes me a honkin’ hungry hungry hippo ALL THE TIME and I eat ALL THE THINGS! So you’re not alone there.

Or maybe you’ve done everything you’re supposed to trying to lose the baby weight. But exercising and cutting out all the treats has not given you your dream body and you don’t like how “soft” you still are.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not doing any fit shaming here. Fit is awesome. But you don’t have to have six-pack abs to be fit.

Fit is a feeling, not an image.

At the same time, there is nothing wrong with aspiring to your dream body if you’re at a point where it’s realistic to achieve it and you do so healthfully and happily (i.e., without crash dieting, overtraining, or taking magic pills).

If the summer season serves as motivation to get your fit together (see what I did there?), that is GREAT. Get ON THAT like crazy! Surround yourself with a fitness-focused tribe and find your fit.

But don’t let it consume you. The second it becomes an unhealthy obsession, step back and evaluate your priorities. Chances are you have a lot to balance in your life.

Truth is, people who are in it for extrinsic reasons, like to reach a magic number on the scale or look a certain way, ultimately don’t succeed, wreck their metabolism, and run their energy and confidence into the ground.

Having a regular workout routine will CHANGE YOUR LIFE if you realize all the other benefits, like increased energy, better sleep, more focus and productivity, boosted mood, etc. It pretty much makes you a better everything. Fat loss is just a side effect!

If you feel good, you look good.

So can’t we just accept and admire each other in our summer wear and have some respect instead of letting insecurity, judgment, and jealousy take over?

And extend that respect to our own selves for once.

Confidence is the sexiest thing you can wear.

So just put on the freakin’ swimsuit and rock your #mombod – love rolls and tiger stripes and all.

*This post originally appeared on Fit Mix Mom.