In August of 2006, M was turning a year old. During her first year, I turned to a number of resources to help me navigate the first year of parenthood: family, friends, books, magazines — I was all over it, making sure that she was hitting her milestones, that she was eating from all of the food groups, and that she was engaged in activities to stimulate growth and development — Gymboree Play and Music! Kindermusik! Stroller Strides! My mother gifted me with a subscription to Parents Magazine as part of my “Welcome to Motherhood” starter pack. In the last issue before my subscription ran out, I came across an article entitled “The Swimsuit Project”. In it, author Maria Heck describes how prior to her becoming a mother, she came across a photo essay in Life Magazine. The photo essay depicted a young woman whose mother had posed her in the same bathing suit each year on her birthday. Heck was duly impressed and promised herself that whenever she had a daughter, she would duplicate the project. When her daughter was 4 months old, Heck slipped Madeline into a floral bathing suit, complete with bra cups, that had belonged to Heck’s mother. Every year on Madeline’s birthday, Heck snapped a picture. She did this for 15 years, stopping when the suit fit her daughter better than it had ever fit her own mother.

At that point in time, Heck decided that, “the chronicle is complete. She has gone from baby to young woman. If anything proves that your child grows up in the blink of an eye, it’s seeing these pictures all together and realizing that the first one was only a heartbeat away from the last.”

swimsuit project, DIY, children, activities, photography, patience

The Original Project via Parents Magazine, August 2006

The article in Parents was Heck’s photo essay of the very project that caught her eye. Like Heck, I was struck by the simplicity of the project, the patience required, and the unique approach in cataloging a child’s growth and development. I decided that I was going to do this project with, and for, M. We started that night, with my Lands End Tunic Bathing Suit. and every year since I’ve snapped a picture.

This year was already gearing up to be a BFD birthday wise, and because the Universe has a sense of humor, not only am I now the mother of a teenager, but remember that bathing suit? The one that fit more like a dress for the longest time? This one right here. . .

Yeah, it fits. Like, it really fits.

August 23, 2005


7 lbs. 10 oz.

21 inches long

You were, are, and continue to be just perfect. We so proud of the young lady you are becoming.

Happy, happy birthday, my sweet girl. We love you!

To see the project in its’ entirety, click here for last year’s collage!

Originally published at Hilary With One L.